Nor the Moon by Day
Observing sunrise is the mountains is a special experience. The mornings are cool and, if you are lucky, the sky is clear. Often the mountain tops show signs of the rising sun even before it appears. This was the case on our second morning in the Aoraki Mt Cook National Park. At least 30 minutes before the sun rose above the Liebig Range on the eastern side of the Tasman Valley its golden yellow light could be seen creeping down the eastern face of Mt Sefton and over the upper reaches of the Mueller Glacier. Further up the Hooker Valley Aoraki Mt Cook was getting its first light of the day while the moon still hung high in the sky from the night before (I know that’s not technically correct, but that is how it looked). Finally the the sun peeked over the Liebig Range and the Hooker Valley slowly filled with light: shadows softened and colours emerged.
Heading a play on the words of Psalm 121:6 – “The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night.”
Early Morning Run
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.
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 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.
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.
It has been a while since I got up early enough to capture a sunrise. When I looked out of the window early this morning It looked as though we would be in for a show. The clouds looked great and the glow was beginning to show. I was not disappointed.
Misty Dawn – Catlins
Another morning, another dawn. We moved to the Catlins Coast in Southland after riding the Otago Central Rail Trail for a different South Island experience. Our accommodation was at Hilltop Backpackers at Papatowai, a one store settlement between Dunedin and Invercargill near the rugged Catlins coast. Backpackers accommodation is not our usual style, but places to stay are in relatively short supply in that part of the world and Hilltop had good reviews on the web. Being sixty something and not really wanting bunkroom style accommodation, we took the en suite double room which turned out to be a nicely furnished quaint period room in the old house overlooking the valley leading to the sea.
Fellow travellers on that first night were from Hong Kong, Germany and New Zealand. A retired school teacher and hotel concierge from Hong Kong, a PhD student from Germany, an office administrator from Auckland, and us – all fetched up on a hillside in the middle of remote Southland.
We had arrived at twilight. Being concerned that we had turned up at the right place we weren’t fully aware of the surroundings. Sheep were wandering around nearby – one even surprised me in the dark as I unloaded the car by appearing out of the gloom to observe what was going on.
In the morning there was rustling outside our room which turned out to be one of our Hong Kong travellers photographing the mist and the sunrise. It didn’t take much to get me out there as well, and this is the result. What a great welcome to the Catlins Coast.
Dawn Sky – Central Otago
As I wonder what each day will bring when I wake in the morning one of the first indicators I look to is the dawn sky. I love dawn skies for their brilliant colours and how the shades of blue, orange, yellow and mauve change as the sun gets closer to the horizon.
The overcast conditions we experienced on the Otago Central Rail Trail produced this show of colours. It developed slowly from mostly dark blue clouds tinged with red, to this show of orange just before the sun appeared. The morning was cool, but not cold. Even while I set up the tripod the colours changed. I was all fingers and thumbs in the dark as I hurried to get ready. “More haste, less speed”, my mother used to say.
So, what sort of day did the dawn herald? A ride through the sweeping Maniototo Plain with the Rock and Pillar Range ahead and the Kakanui Mountains on the left. The landscape colour is mostly brown and gold. With the overcast sky it was also moody. The Central Otago painter and artist Grahame Sydney accurately captures this moodiness in his many paintings of the area.
In the winter it is cold on the plains below the mountains. At nearby Ophir in the centre of the historic gold rush area New Zealand’s coldest ever temperature of -21.6 degrees celsius was recorded on 3 July 1995. In the summer Alexandra near one end of the Rail Trail often has the country’s highest temperatures. During autumn, when the frosts hit the trees, the countryside is ablaze with yellow and gold. In the winter the surrounding mountains are capped with snow. This set of seasonal changes has its impact on “Central”, which makes it such an alluring place to visit.
I know that not every day can start with a blaze of early morning colour, but I still look forward in the hope that it will be there.
Early Morning Display – Takapuna Beach and Rangitoto Island
I was up at 5.30 this morning. The night had been hot and as I’d had a fitful sleep so I decided to start the day early. You have to be quick with sunrises. What got me on the beach was the sight of the rising sun catching in the hair of a girl running with her dog. It would have made a terrific photograph, but you have to be in the right place to capture it. By the time I reached the beach the sun had already broken over the horizon in the east, but the blues and oranges in the sky were great.
Of the three images I captured of the sun showing through the clouds, this one is the best. I love taking sunrises and sunsets, and slowly I am learning what works and what does not. With more time I could have chosen a different viewing point, but as I said, you have to be quick to capture the moment.
Sony Alpha DSLR – A200, 1/13 sec, F22, ISO 100, Sigma DC 18-200 lens at 18 mm