Tag Archives: Dark

Lantern Parade

16 March ’13

For the last few years the Palmerston Festival of Cultures has kicked off with a community Lantern Parade.  We went as a family a couple of years ago – I don’t know why we didn’t attend last year, we must have had something else on that weekend.

There are many different beliefs about the origin of lantern festivals, however, it is likely to have had something to do with celebrating and cultivating positive relationships between people, families, nature and the higher beings that were believed to be responsible for bringing or returning the light each year.

Billy (with a bit of persuasion – it’s hard to prize him away from a ‘screen’ sometimes)  came with me to check out this year’s parade.

It’s the Chinese Year of the Snake, so the parade was lead by a fabulous snake lantern named Gerald.  Not a very Chinese name, but I guess he is a Kiwi snake.

Lantern Parade

Gerald the Snake Lantern

Amongst the community lanterns that followed Gerald were the zodiac lanterns from the previous years.  I’d love to know where these fabulous paper creations Continue reading

WeekSeven – Andrew, teen stockcar enthusiast

12  – 18 Feb ’12

We took the kids to the stock cars on Saturday night.  We go several times each season, it’s always a fun night out. A friend of Cat’s was there too, his family is involved in the local speedway scene.  Andrew came and sat with us for a while and chatted in a very animated fashion!

Andrew - teen stockcar enthusiast

F-stop               f/5.3 and f/5.6
Exposure time   1/60sec
ISO speed          ISO-640
Focal length      86mm and 112mm

 The photos were very underexposed.  I was able to bring them some, but the shadow under his hat in the center shot was completely void of information.  Shooting with nothing but the track lights is less than ideal. Still I like this triptych. And I like his hat –  I think that may be the signature of Wayne Hemi

Week 45 – Stockcars, Fireworks – Spectacular!

5 – 11 Nov ’11

Another annual event, the Fireworks Spectacular at the Speedway

Low light, fast moving vehicles, dust, wires, people.  Not any easy situation.  I’d love chance to take my camera ‘in field’.

Moving targets 

The stock car racing is alway fun to watch.  It’s a shame about the wires, but they’re there for our safety.

Stockcars Palmerston North


F-stop                  f/6.3
Exposure time     1/160sec
ISO Speed           ISO-640

Lots of chances to practice my panning technique while cars whizzed around the track.

Speedway Palmerston North

Crashes always add to the excitement

F-stop                  f/6.3
Exposure time     1/160sec
ISO Speed           ISO-640

Right in front of us!  Everyone goes for the crashes – the actual racing is Continue reading

Week 44 – Fireworks Night

29 Oct – 4 Nov ’11

Every year the Ashhurst Fire Brigade holds a family night of fun and fireworks for  Guy Fawkes Night.  Surprisingly, in all the years we’ve been with the Brigade there has only ever been one call-out for a Guy-Fawkes-related incident, thanks to the sensible citizens of Ashhurst and the Pohangina Valley.

Sparklers and Bangers

I took the 50mm with me, knowing that the light was going to be very low and the max aperture of my zoom lens wasn’t going to cut it.  The low light also meant that the auto-focus was struggling.  I found that I was hitting the shutter and nothing was happening more often than not.   I did manage to get a  few shots.  The little tots are so adorable, and the firework light is lovely.

Blake with his sparkler

 F-stop                  f/1.8
Exposure time      1/125sec 
ISO speed            ISO-800

Blake’s commentary on the whole night – “Wow… Bang!… more!!”


Zavier enjoying his sparkler

 F-stop                  f/1.8
Exposure time      1/125sec 
ISO speed            ISO-800

Zavier is lit from the light spilling through the adjacent training room window, and a little by his sparkler.

All these shots were very noisy, I’ve had to noise-reduce them rather a lot, which has taken away the sharpness.  Still cute shots, I hope their Mums like them. 🙂

Jasmine having a good time

 F-stop                  f/1.8
Exposure time      1/125sec 
ISO speed            ISO-800

Moving fast, Jasmine almost moved out of the frame before I got the shot, and she’s really not in focus.  I know the rule “Have your subject looking in to the frame” has been broken, but I think this picture has a sense of movement and fun that describes the night.

Fireman and fireworks

In safe hands

 F-stop                  f/2.2
Exposure time      1/160sec 
ISO speed            ISO-1000

 We always have a fireman with all the safety gear to run the show.

Fireworks and church

Fire and brimstone

 F-stop                  f/2.2
Exposure time      1/160sec 
ISO speed            ISO-1000

I just managed to catch a ghost of the church in the background, lit by the fireworks.

Fireworks display

The spectators watch from a safe distance

F-stop                  f/2.2
Exposure time      1/160sec 
ISO speed            ISO-1000

Something I did learn from the night – fireworks light is very unpredictable.  It’s pretty much ‘click and hope’ that an explosion is occurring at that moment.  I had lots of BLACK to delete.  Thank goodness for digital.

Week 41 – A Week in the Land of the Aucks.

8-14 Oct ‘11

A few month backs we planned a week away with the kids. The only time Nathan and I could both get off work turned out to be second week of October. We wondered at the wisdom of spending a week in Auckland during the semi-finals of the Rugby World Cup combined with the school holidays, but decided to take the plunge.

These are a selection of the shots I took over the course of the week.

Hamilton Gardens

Years ago we discovered the delights of the Hamilton Gardens. There is a section of the park that has been developed in to a series of themed gardens. Each small area is planted and landscaped in a particular style – a Japanese tea garden, an English perennial border, Renaissance Italian, American modernist and more. My favourite is the Chinese scholar’s garden with its turtle pond, arched stone bridge, and ‘mountain’ path through a towering bamboo grove up to a pergola with a view to the mighty Waikato River.

A quick snap, handheld without too much thought to composition. It was the reflection of the hump-back bridge in the pond that caught my eye.

F-stop                 f/5 
Exposure time    1/200 sec
ISO speed          ISO-200 
Focal length       34mm

Cropping to correct the composition, I decided to go for black and white to focus attention on the reflections and textures. I sent the file to edit in Photoshop. There I could mask out the lower areas in order to lighten up Continue reading

Week30 – Playing with Fire

23-29 July ’11

I’ve been in a bit of a photographic slump the last few weeks.  Maybe a touch of the winter blues.  I just seem to have lost the excitement I usually feel for taking pictures, and seeing what I’ve got once I get to the processing stage.  It was this mid-winter lack of interest that caused the demise of my 365 project last year.  It took me most of the week to get around to processing these shots. Meh, I’m sure this funk will pass.  Just have to keep plugging on and wait for spring. I’ve finally got my zoom lens back from the repair shop, so maybe this will give the injection of enthusiasm I need.

This weekend we made for Mangaweka – middle of the school holidays, no rugby, no other commitments.  Trev collected the kidlets early on Friday morning, the Lovely Man and I traveled up after work.

Fire light

The children have small pot-belly stove in the garden that they are allowed to light and use to cook snacks.  They seem to have learned a healthy respect for fire, whilst learning how to control it and put its power to good use.  Handy skills to have, and ones that many kids probably miss out on.  Later in the evening the opportunity arose to play around with some longer, night-time exposures.  Light writing using a glowing stick, Billy had loads of fun making squiggles in the darkness.  I hadn’t taken my tripod with me, so I rested the camera on the back of a chair for stability.

Drawing with light

Cat found herself a stick to light, too.  It needed a little extra oxygen to get it glowing.

Cat in the stars

F-stop                   f/1.8
Exp time              1/60sec
ISO speed           ISO-800
Focal length     50mm

The low light made this a very noisy image.  I liked the starry/sand effect, so I pushed it further.  I’m pleased with the results.

Lighting a Fire

The middle of a damp winter is the safest time for a bonfire.  We had a pile of prunings and clippings from various garden tidy-up projects to dispose of.  The Lovely Man will take any excuse to have  a play on Oliver the li’l’ bulldozer.  He pushed all the old branches and bamboo in to a heap for burning. Continue reading

Week22 – Fire Brigade Training Night

28 May – 3 June ’11

My Lovely Man is the training officer for the Ashhurst Volunteer Fire Brigade.  This week he needed some ‘victims’. Our kidlets volunteered.

Where there’s no smoke, there’s no fire

7pm, it’s dark outside.  Dressed in warm clothes, camera packed, we wait  at home for the call.   SSO Loach phones that he’s ready, the kids and I jump in the car and head  to the site of the ‘rescue’.

The scenario – the changing rooms at the Domain are on fire, filled with smoke.

The call goes in to the station, in short order the fire engine arrives and the fire men leap in to action.  A witness (who also happens to be a photographer 🙂  ) explains in a rather vague fashion that  some children, “three or four of them, about ‘this’ high” , might have been inside the building.

Ashhurst 221

Ashhurst 221

Running out hose

The first team dons BA (breathing apparatus), the visors of which, for the purpose of the excersise, have been covered.  Now, when they enter the site they Continue reading

Week15 – Limestone Creek Glow Worm Caves

9-15 April ’11

I would like to apologise in advance for the poor processing on some the of following photos.  I’m learning how to drive some new software.  Bear with me, hopefully there will be an improvement by next week.

The Pohangina Valley

This weekend we decided to take the kidlets up to the glow worm caves at Aptiti.  Saturday had dawned blue-sky perfect.  We packed up picnic supplies, torches and gumboots and set off mid-morning.   The valley formed by the Pohangina River runs south from its headwaters high in the  Ruahine Ranges to Ashhurst, were the river empties in to the Manawatu .  It’s a beautiful, and I think under-appreciated, part of our country.  The views from the road as we wind north from home are spectacular.  At this time of year the the valley is changing to

The Pohangina River Valley - dressed in Autumns splendor

golds and reds as Autumn works her magic on the foliage.  The low morning sun glistens off the ribbon of river in the valley floor. The recent rains have created an almost obscene over-abundence of lush green grass on the farmland.

Tree Ferns, ponga

Tree Ferns, dinosaur fodder

The pocket of native bush that is Totara Reserve reminds us of what the whole region used to look like – one can easily imagine dinosaurs munching on the tree ferns and grazing on the jewel green mosses.


We stopped for a brief snack break on our journey.  There is a drive way and a grassed area that used to be the camp ground and picnic spot of choice at the Reserve.  This area was wiped  out in the floods of Feb 2004, it could have been repaired, replanted and rebuilt.  However, in Dec 2006  tragedy occured.  Three  children,  Keryn and Callum Langley and their cousin Michael Liengme were swimming with their families.  The bank above the river collapsed, trapping and killing the children.  This part of the river is now closed,  so says the sign erected by the council.  I don’t think the sign is necessary.  There is a feeling of sadness and neglect that has settled over that stretch of river, no one wants to swim there now.  So we stopped to snack.  We stood on the bank and contemplated the huge pile of soil and rock that still lies in the river where the children were swimming.  We enjoyed the sunshine and the birds singing from the totara tree tops, because life goes on.  And I thanked my lucky stars that it wasn’t my kids swimming in that river that day.

Limestone Creek and the Glow Worm Caves

Both the lovely man and I visited these caves as kids.  On separate occasions we stayed at the near-by Sixtus Lodge, an outdoor education center used by schools in the area.   We have vague memories of a scramble down the hillside, splashing through the creek at the bottom, and the dark mystery of the cave twinkling with the  little glow worms’ lights.

Kidlets at the start of the track down to Limestone Creek

A sign at the top of the track warns us to be careful, that this is a remote experience area.  And it reminds us to respect that we are entering private property.  It’s refreshing to just have a sensible warning sign, and then the freedom to use our own common sense.  No fences barring the way, no cotton- wool-wrapping to save the unwary from themselves.  We don our gumboots, arm ourselves with torches and head down. Continue reading