Tag: Stars

24-Hours of Photography

24-Hours of Photography

Point Halswell, New Zealand – May 7, 2018

Over roughly the last 24 hours, I have made nearly 300 photographs.  Readers, please do not despair.  This entry does not contain that many!

Leslie and I intended to travel to Point Halswell on Miramar Peninsula to capture the sunset.  Once the sun was down, I wanted to photograph the lights of the City of Wellington across Wellington Harbour.  Unfortunately, when we arrived, the conditions did not lend themselves to either endeavor.  It was very windy.  The wind gusts were about 78 km/h (48 mph).  That meant there was a lot of haze in the area.

Even though Plan A was off, I moved to Plan B; taking advantage of the beautiful colors courtesy of the late afternoon sunlight. Part of Plan B included using my wireless shutter release remote. I had never used it before…as the photographic evidence attests! Before I made the first shot, I knew the shadow of my tripod was in the view. However, I thought my body might be far enough away so that my shadow was out of sight …wrong! My next brilliant idea was to use the two-second delay. Surely that would be enough time for me to run my shadow out of the frame…wrong! Apparently, it takes quite a while to relocate this mass. Oh well, it is all about learning, I guess.

Hmmm…does the wireless shutter release work? Why yes it does!!
…maybe I can outrun the wireless shutter release…NOT!!

Once I got my wings, so to speak, I noticed a flock of water birds.  The birds hovered on the wind above the water and then dove into the water.  There was a shoal of fish there that was on the birds’ menu.  It did not last long there.  That makes sense.  If I were in a shoal, I would continue moving along, trying to get away from those pesky birds.

Seagulls flying around the rocks.
Feeding on a shoal of fish.
Flying to the next feeding spot.

When the flock flew behind me, there was a male and female seagull that remained behind, perched on a rock.  I can only assume they had had their fill of fish.  They just stood there, watching everything else unfold.  After a while, another female stopped on an adjacent rock.

“This is our rock,” she yells!
A new neighbor looking for a spot on the rock.
The neighbor has landed.

Leslie and I turned around and drove back home.
The next morning, we were on the road at 04:00. We drove to the Owhiro Bay area to experiment with star photography. My results were not “stellar”…but it was enjoyable. There is a reasonably well-lit foreground in many of the shots because there was a half-moon directly overhead. It provided a lot of light.
While we were there, we saw several ships moving through the Cook Strait.  We also saw a lot of shooting stars.

Stars at Red Rocks. The lens was open for 152 seconds. The line of light on the horizon is actually a cargo ship passing by in Cook Strait.

Before we depart from New Zealand, I will find another opportunity to try night photography.

We waited at the beach for the sunrise. It was breezy and fresh which made it somewhat uncomfortable. After making a few more photographs, we piled into the car and headed to breakfast with warm coffee.

The sun lit up most of the point. The barely visible mountains at the left horizon are actually across Cook Strait on the South Island.
View from Point Halswell across to Eastbourne.
A flock of seagulls feeding at Point Halswell.
Four birds stayed behind.
View toward Eastbourne. The small Ward Island is also visible.
Rock textures.
Rock textures II.
A trio of gulls.
Watching the waves crash.
The Point Halswell lighthouse.
Matiu/Somes Island.
Stars at Red Rocks. The lens was open for 193 seconds.
Stars at Red Rocks. The lens was open for 132 seconds.
Stars at Red Rocks. The lens was open for 123 seconds.
Looking toward Red Rocks at the far point.
The sky turned a bit pink at sunrise.
Looking toward Red Rocks.
Get to the Point

Get to the Point

Castlepoint, New Zealand – September 2, 2017

We decided to take a long weekend at Castlepoint, New Zealand. We wanted to stay in a bach since we knew many of those would be right on the beach. A bach (pronounced “batch” without the “t”) is like a cabin or summer home. We had heard of them, but we had never stayed in one. I visited the website Bookabach to find our accommodation. We decided on a two-bedroom bach, on the beach, with stunning views of the Castlepoint Lighthouse. The only things we had to bring were our linens and groceries. Other than that, everything is provided by the bach owner.
Taken just outside the bach.  It was chilly.  I had on a fleece jacket and two shirts.  It was spitting rain during this photoshoot.

The small town of Castlepoint is a little more than a two-hour drive from Lower Hutt. The journey is not bad; although, Leslie would disagree because of Rimutaka Pass. She really dislikes that pass.

Castlepoint lies along the east coast of the north island.  If one is looking for wild nightlife, this is probably not the place to visit.  There is one coffee house/grocery, the Castlepoint Store (they are called dairies here) and one hotel/restaurant, the Castlepoint Hotel and Guesthouse.  It is also known as the Whakataki Hotel.  On our way into town, we stopped at the hotel for a coffee.

September is the beginning of spring in New Zealand, so the weather can be dicey. We indeed found that to be true. It was cold and rainy for much of our visit. Regardless, we had a fun, relaxing weekend. It seemed more like a fall afternoon than a spring day.

We whiled away some of our time by quietly sitting in the bach, reading, or doing art projects. When we looked up, we were looking out of a large picture window, right at the lighthouse.

The Castlepoint Lighthouse as seen from our bach.

Except for some raindrops periodically hitting the bach, it was tranquil. It was also rather chilly inside. There were some space heaters available, but we did not turn them on too high. We would rather be comfortably cold than excruciatingly hot.

Part of what made the environment so relaxing was the water. I mean both the ocean and the rain. I have never been able to put my finger on the reason why, but something is soothing about the sound of water to the human spirit. It seems to “soothe the savage beast.” I could sit, watch, and listen to the ocean and the rain for hours. The smell of the sea and the rain added to the experience and the overall relaxation. I love Colorado, but I have come to love the islands of New Zealand too.

On our first afternoon, we walked along the beach in front of our bach.  There was a lot of activity because there was a fishing tournament in full swing.  We watched one man for a while as he set his bait, cast, and then reeled the line back to shore.  He said he had caught a couple, but he did not think they were anything to write home about.

Reelin’ one in.

The fisherman told us the tournament was drawing to a close.  He said there would be a large gathering at the Wairarapa Sports Fishing Club to celebrate the winners and have a fish-fry.  He suggested we stop by and partake.  We opted not to since we did not feel comfortable.  Besides, we had our heart set on dinner at the hotel.

The ocean swells were reasonably strong. At times, the fishing boats out disappeared from view as they bobbed up and down. Leslie and I were both glad we were on terra firma.

Since the fishing tournament was ending, people were beginning to bring their boats to shore.  It is always fun to watch people launch and recover boats.  They drive out onto the beach with a tractor, point the trailer into the surf, and either launch or recover.  I assume the small bay is too unprotected to have an actual marina.  Also, once a marina is in place, then it requires time and energy to operate and maintain.  So, I am sure the locals think the tractor and trailer method is much preferred.

A green tractor retrieving a boat.

Because of the weather, we opted to not climb to the lighthouse that first afternoon. For dinner that evening, we went back to the Castlepoint Hotel. The dining area was a combination of a bar, diner, and pool hall. There was a more formal dining room to the left as one entered, but everyone seemed to opt for the other. I am sure a big reason why was the roaring fire in the woodstove. We had a glass of wine and a good ol’ stick-to-your-ribs dinner.

A roaring fire in the hotel.

Back at the bach, I sat up my tripod to try to get some photos of the lighthouse in action.  It was a cloudy, misty, and cold evening.  I think that made for a good picture.

The next morning, we drove a little farther north along the coast. In about 15-minutes we came to the Mataikona Rocks. One of the Kiwis in the hotel the night before had recommended we visit. They were an unusual formation. We arrived as the tide was coming in. That limited how much of the structure we could see.  The compositions are layers of sandstone that have been upthrust when tectonic plates collided.

Mataikona Rocks at the beach.

It was still a mostly cloudy day. However, now and then, the sun would poke through. That made for some excellent photographs.

On the way to the Mataikona Rocks, we drove past a beautifully green paddock. It was part of a sheep ranch. One could see dozens of sheep and lambs. The shades of green in this country are hard to explain adequately. They are just so brilliant.

Near the Mataikona Rocks was a little-used trail along the beach. Along the path was a sign regarding Paua taking and the relevant regulations. I found that very interesting.

After some additional exploring and beach-combing, we drove back to the bach. Before departing Lower Hutt, we packed some groceries…and wine. That evening we ended up barbequing some beautiful steaks. I am sure part of the reason they tasted so good was the picturesque beauty all around us. The patio of the bach had a small overhang. I moved the barbeque under that for protection from the weather.

The following morning, our last day there, I woke up early. I checked outside and saw that the sky was relatively clear. I had never taken photographs of the stars. I decided to try it. I can tell I will need a lot more practice to get a perfect shot. That said, I did end up with one shot that I liked. Without very much light pollution at Castlepoint, it is incredible all of the stars one can see.

Starry starry night…My first try at star photography. It was actually a very early morning shot. The eastern horizon was just beginning to light up.  That is the lighthouse in the lower right.

Many of our friends from work have been to Castlepoint. For those that have not been there, I highly recommend the trip. It was so lovely to relax and not be running from one tourist site to the next. We felt very relaxed when we returned home.

Early evening at a stormy Castlepoint.
Launching in Deliverance Cove.
The fishing boat shuffle.
Reelin’ on in…again.
A boat launcher/retriever.
The lighthouse.
A couple of seals on the rocks.
Castlepoint lighthouse.
Green and rolling paddock.
More sheep and lambs.
The bay at Castlepoint.
The Mataikona Rocks looking toward the north.
I could not determine why the poles were in the surf.
Panorama of homes along Mataikona Road.
Gathering clouds above the Mataikona Rocks.
Paua fishing sign.
Bay alongside Mataikona Road.
Koru.
Rolling hills near Castlepoint.
Castlepoint bay.
View from Mataikona Road looking toward Castlepoint.
Sheep and lambs.
Rock formation along Mataikona Road.
Castle Rock looming over Deliverance Cove.
Deliverance Cove and Castle Rock.
Castlepoint lighthouse with Deliverance Cove and Castle Rock in the distance.
Castlepoint lighthouse.
Castle Rock at Deliverance Cove as seen from the lighthouse vantage point.
Our little slice of heaven. The bach we stayed at is in the center foreground with the green roof.
View of the Castlepoint bay from the lighthouse vantage point.