Tag Archives: Fire Brigade

A Shy Smile

22 April ’13

Sunday before last I was given the opportunity to take photographs at the annual IHC picnic organised by the Fitzherbert Lions at the Ashhurst Domain.  This is an event that the Lions Club organise to give the clients a fun day out, and also to give the carers a day to relax and know their charges are well entertained.

The Lovely Man was going to be driving the Fire Engine, giving the ‘guys’ rides around the park – always a hit with everyone, young and old.  He invited me along in my capacity as unofficial “Official Photographer” for the Ashhurst Fire Brigade.  At first I was thrilled, and started thinking of shots I could get.  But once we were in the appliance and heading to the park I began to have doubts.  I am not at my best with strangers in social situations, and the idea of strangers with special needs was beginning to feel daunting.

As soon as we arrived I was adopted by the sweetest little lady.  She kept coming up to me and taking my arm, never saying a word.  But she stroked my arm and nodded that, yes, she would like a ride in the fire engine.  A real sweetheart.

Happy faces

A sweet little lady

Loading people with physical as well and mental disabilities up in to the truck is a bit of a mission, but there were plenty of strong and willing helpers on hand.  The expressions of sheer happiness on the client’s faces when they returned from their rides made all the effort worthwhile.

Fire engine ride


One chap named Micheal seemed painfully shy, I could not get him to look at me for a photo.  The look of sly delight on his face as he climbed down from the fire engine was priceless.

Ride in the fire truck

A Shy Smile

Micheal’s friend was telling me all about how they are fund raising to get to the Special Olympics in Dunedin.  He told me about his flight to Nelson, where he won medals for weightlifting.  The men’s carer told me that this gent is indeed a Continue reading

WeekEleven – Certification

11 – 17 March ’11

Having a hard time making myself use my strobe, especially in public. Here’s Matt being presented with his Three Year Certificate at the Fire Brigade’s “Christmas Dinner”.

Fire Brigaee 3 year certificate

Certification presentation

F-stop                f/5.6
Exposure time   1/80sec
ISO speed         ISO-320
Focal length      50mm

Week50 – MIRs (Men in Red)

10-16 Dec ’11

The Christmas season is upon us – the community parade on Saturday, then the Fire Brigade family Christmas party on Sunday.  And the weather gods smiled on us.

A Tale of Two Santas

 Wanting to relax and enjoy the days, I decided to set my camera on Aperture priority.  I set the aperture such that the depth of field would allow a wide area of focus.  I could relax knowing that the shutter speed would look after itself as the sun was playing chasey with the clouds.

The parade was fantastic.  And of course the star of the show is Santa.  I walked along with the end of the Parade until Santa’s sleigh was backed by trees (the other background choices are not very photogenic).

Ashhurst Parade

Christmas Parade Santa

 F-stop                  f/7.1
Exposure time     1/1250sec
ISO speed             ISO-200
Focal length         42mm 

The bright mid-day sun meant the camera chose a fast shutter speed.

My Lovely Man volunteered to play Santa at the kids’ party.

Ashhurst Volunteer Fire Brigade

Fire Brigade Santa

 F-stop                 f/8
Exposure time     1/50sec
ISO speed           ISO-200
Focal length         55mm 

Under the trees, shaded from the hot afternoon sun, the camera chose a much slower shutter speed.  It is somewhat slower than I would choose myself for shooting handheld. Luckily it worked out OK. Lesson learned – when letting the camera choose the settings, make sure those settings are actually going to  produce useable pictures.

Week46 – Promotions

12 – 18 Nov ’11

The retirement of the Deputy Chief has meant some promotions and a reshuffle of the Brigade hierarchy.   A get-together with family members was held at the station to present the new ranks.

On Parade

I knew that the Parade was to be held outside, and expecting to need a wider angle capacity, I went with the 18-125mm.  I still lack faith in this lens, and it’s tendency to warp horizontals is annoying, but I knew the nifty-fifty would not comfortably give me the coverage I needed.  And also I wanted to be able to get close in to the action of the presentations, without having to be right up there.

Blake thought Daddy needed a hug before proceedings got under way.

Ashhurst Fire Brigade

Junior Cadet

Exposure time   1/200 sec
F-stop               f/8
ISO                   ISO-250
Focal length      55mm

This kind of candid, moment-in-time shot is the type that I love to capture.

My Lovely Man, the new DCFO, was presented with his  rank epaulets and helmet by  John Bragg, the retired DCFO.   I am very proud of him, of his commitment 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.

Week34 – Honours

20 – 26 Aug ’11

The annual Honours Night for the Ashhurst Volunteer Fire Brigade was held this week at the RSA in Palmertson North.    As always, a big thanks goes to the crew from the Feilding Brigade who made the trip over and slept on station to allow our guys some time off and a night out, secure in the knowledge that our community is well cared for.

Honours and Awards

Each year we take the time to honour the achievements and celebrate the successes of Brigade members.  This year we farewell DCFO John Bragg, who is retiring after serving over thirty years in the NZ Fire Service.   I am very proud to say the my Lovely Man has received official word that he will be promoted to Deputy Chief Fire Officer on JB’s retirement.

Honoured and Invited Guests

The Man of the Moment - DCFO John 'JB' Bragg

I’d taken my lil’ nifty fifty with me for the evening.  Knowing that low-ish light was likely the extra aperture would come in handy, and also feeling more comfortable with the short lens over the zoom when photographing candids.  I feel that the little lens is less obtrusive and people relax more than they can with a big zoom shoved in their faces.  I also kept the flash to a minimum, and have upped the exposure of all these shots in post.   I’ve learned over the last year that I really enjoy candid event shooting, and a more photo-journalistic style over posed shots.  I try to keep my eye out for ‘moments’, such as the shot above of John holding his grandchild.

Among the honours handed out during the evening, three members received Continue reading

Week29 – Spruce up at the Station

16-22 July ’11

This is the small article and photos I submitted to the Village Voice for the August issue

…. And it seems it didn’t make the cut….

Ashhurst Volunteer Fire Brigade

By Lisa Loach

There were several little jobs that needed doing around the station.  A few Brigade members got together to complete the work over several days in July.

A new shelving system was built in the van garage for storage.   The wiring was completed for the sound system and radio speakers; the power supply to the fire truck was permanently mounted.    Some of the Fire Service memorabilia that had been packed away since the refurbishment last year was brought out for display in the recreation room.  Some walls got a fresh coat of paint, and the yard had a general tidy up.

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

Week16 – Team Photo

16 – 22 April ’11

The Ashhurst Volunteer Fire Brigade

The people of Ashhurst and the Pohangina Valley are served by a volunteer fire brigade.  These men, and at the  moment they are all men,  stand ready turn out at any hour of the day or night.  They  attend emergencies from medical crisis to car accidents, house fires to wind damaged power lines.  They receive no payment , all have other jobs and they give up their time for the good of our community.  My lovely man has been a member of the AVFB for sixteen  years.  He currently holds the rank of Senior Station Officer.

Sporadically over the years the Brigade has had a ‘team photo’ taken to hang on the social room wall.  An inspection revealed that there had not been a photo taken to add to the collection for almost eight years.  So someone put up their hand and volunteered to give it a go…

The Shoot

Nervous.  I woke up at 4.45am on Monday,  started going over the shoot in my head and couldn’t get back to sleep.  My biggest worry was the lighting.  I’d wanted to do this shoot in daylight as I have no external lighting gear what-so-ever.  Sadly we just did not manage to make a date to get it done during the summer months, so I was stuck working with the flouro lights in the appliance bay.  My plan – use my nifty fifty for max clarity and aperture, and hope for the best.  Not really much of a plan.

I did carry out extensive study on group shots, posing and crowd control.  By the time Monday evening rolled around I at least was sure I knew what I was doing in that regard.  The most important point that I read was ‘pretend like you know what you’re doing’.   The theory is that if you act like a professional people will listen to you.  I have to say that this worked.  And having a solid posing plan in place, and written down on paper , put my mind at ease and meant I was able to relax.   Also, arriving in plenty of time so I had may camera, tripod, the truck and the chairs all in place when the guys turned up meant everything went smoothly for the actual shot.

Ashhurst Volunteer Fire Brigade

Exposure 0.013 sec (1/80)
Aperture f/1.8
Focal Length 50 mm
ISO Speed 250

Thanks to my contacts at dPS  and to Fro Knows I was able to get the guys organised and nicely posed with out any stress.  And thanks to some new software and my new ability to shoot and process RAW files I’ve been able to rescue this shot from darkness, noise and a lack of clarity.  I also used the magic that is Photoshop to remove some of the more distracting elements from the background.

I wanted to take a more relaxed shot, so I took inspiration from the earliest Continue reading

Week9 – Christchurch

26 Feb – 4 March ’11

To the people of Christchurch and Canterbury – Kia Kaha

Christchruch Cathedral - in happier times


1 March 2011
Today it is one week since the beautiful city of Christchurch was struck by a deadly earthquake.  As I write the death toll stands at 154, but that number is expected to rise to well over 200.  Families wait in dread and hope to hear news of their missing loved ones.
At 12.51pm today the country observed a two minute silence to reflect on those lost. To hold in our aching hearts all the people who will not be returning to their families, their lives and their homes. All of us around the whole of our little island nation, and those Kiwis residing over seas, stand together with our brothers and sisters in Canterbury. Our petty everyday troubles are put aside as we count ourselves lucky to have our families safe, our homes and businesses standing, the hearts of our cities still beating.

From the New Zealand Herald’s running update page:-


The nation just observed two minutes silence to commemorate those who lost their lives in Tuesday’s earthquake.

Sombre scenes across the nation as people stood in silence in Christchurch, outside Parliament in Wellington, at Aotea Square in Auckland and other spots throughout the country.

Search and rescue workers in quake-torn Christchurch downed their tools and joined the rest of New Zealand in standing in silence.

Prime Minister John Key, who had called for the national period of silence, marked it at the Christchurch Arts Centre.


Pictures from the Herald

My Dad and his partner, Lorraine,  were in Christchurch on holiday when the quake hit.  Thankfully they were not in the central city, but had chosen to have a lazy day and were hanging out in their hotel room at the time.  They managed to escape unhurt and have since made their way home.  For this I am grateful, that I am not among the number still waiting and praying.