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It's a sign!

I'm very thrilled to see one of my photos enlarged and adorning this billboard for the prestigious beachside development Coast Papamoa Beach. Whenever I drive along Papamoa Beach Road now I can see my work. It also appears on the developer's website.

Coast Papamoa Beach, Tauranga, NZ. My photo adorning the billboard and website.

Coast Papamoa Beach, Tauranga, NZ. My photo adorning the billboard and website.

Memories are made of this

Some of my most vivid and nostalgic holiday memories as a kid were the regular holidays we had at Charteris Bay opposite Lyttelton Harbour on Banks Peninsula. Although only 26km from Christchurch City, the trip seemed like an adventure in itself.

Before the Lyttelton Road Tunnel was opened in 1964 travel involved a steep climb up through the Cashmere Hills and through a stand of dark pine forest where I was always hoping to see some sort of wildlife, but I’m not sure what. We’d reach the Sign of the Kiwi at the summit and there in front was that beautiful vista of Lyttelton Harbour. From this point it was a steep descent down to Governors Bay, across the Teddington flats and on around to Charteris Bay. When I saw the old Charteris Bay wharf I knew we were there.

Me with the matchstick legs second to left, with Steve, Rose & Brent.

Me with the matchstick legs second to left, with Steve, Rose & Brent.

Most of the time we stayed in a home owned by family friends Laurie & Eileen McIntyre or in their garage below which had been converted into a self-contained bach. Our days were filled with activity from dawn to dusk. In the early mornings on days when the tides were high, Dad, often with a neighbour or friend would row us in a big heavy row boat from the fine shell and rock beach out to a point which I think is known as Blacks Point. I also recall a time or two when we went out in our Christchurch neighbours motor boat. Once there we would drop our fishing lines into the depths of the milky green hued water which was so often flat and glassy in the early dawn. Its depths held the promise of the day’s catch. It never seemed to take long until a fat red cod was hooked and then they’d be hauled up one after the other.

A load of CODlers. Charteris Bay many moons ago.

A load of CODlers. Charteris Bay many moons ago.

We’d go back to shore contented and then play on the beach, upending rocks to find dozens of crabs skittering for cover again, or we’d fish for sprats off the little wharf, or play up in the bush and hills behind the house.

Charteris Bay boat ramp.

Charteris Bay boat ramp.

Some days we would help Dad and other adults drag a long net in a sweep across the bay and haul ashore a good feed of big fat flounder. Other days we’d wait until the tide was low and then walk out over the mud flats to the mussel beds. The mussels were always large and juicy. We’d watch the tide and make a bee-line for the beach once the tide was turning and starting to rise once more.

By now you’d be thinking this was quite a fishing person’s Eldorado. It was!

At night in summer we went to bed before dark and from bunks could see out the windows and across the harbour watching the rise and fall of the tide across the mudflats as dusk enveloped the bay. Then the distant lights of the Port of Lyttelton would start twinkling. Mum and Dad took their portable record player which was in a red and white plastic case. They’d play records out in the lounge/living area and from bed we’d listen to those early Beatles hits which came out in quick succession. After dark there were always possums about which added a bit of a reluctance to want to use the outside toilet until daybreak.

In the early days I recall the milkman would just pour the milk into metal cans or sauce pans. There was also a neighbour, a German (dentist) from memory called Doctor Landsberg. He lived alone and appeared to prefer his own company. He was very hirsute (hairy) and would regularly dive off the jetty to the left of the bay, swim across to the boat ramp on the right hand side of the bay and back again regardless of the weather. 

A hidden gem in those days and still today is Paradise Bay just beyond Charteris Bay. Hidden from the road and accessible from just a walking track it is an idyllic sheltered sun trap.

Paradise Bay. My Dad in yellow shirt.

Paradise Bay. My Dad in yellow shirt.

They were such memorable days that I believe left me and my brothers and sister with an enduring sentimental bond with that coast from Charteris Bay to Diamond Harbour. Our Dad spent many days in his youth yachting there and I guess it continued to hold the same attraction for him.

To me, Charteris Bay hasn’t really changed much through all the decades. There are homes still perched on the hill side that were there when I was a kid. It’s an unsettling mix of nostalgia and loss whenever I return there. So many memories coupled with a realisation that so much time has passed. I think my experiences created a desire to provide our own kids with memorable childhood holidays and I feel confident that aim was achieved.  

View across to Lyttelton from my bro and sister-in-law's idyllic home setting in Diamond Harbour a few bends in the road along from Charteris Bay.

View across to Lyttelton from my bro and sister-in-law's idyllic home setting in Diamond Harbour a few bends in the road along from Charteris Bay.

Sunsets are made of this 

Some of the most beautiful scenes are right on my doorstep and often found when we are going for an early evening walk. This was a fleeting moment recently in the stormwater catchment lakes and waterways which run for a few kilometres from Papamoa West to Papamoa East.

Papamoa Beach sunset. Olympus E-M1 1/80 sec, f/4.5, ISO 200

Papamoa Beach sunset. Olympus E-M1 1/80 sec, f/4.5, ISO 200

Another image taken early evening at the end of the street when there was quite a stunning sky.

Sky high. Evening tranquility at the end of the street. Olympus E-M1. 1/200sec, f/7.1, ISO 200

Sky high. Evening tranquility at the end of the street. Olympus E-M1. 1/200sec, f/7.1, ISO 200

The previous two photos were taken with the most recent addition to my lens stable. The wide angle Olympus 7mm-14mm f/2.8 PRO lens. I really hesitated in getting this quite expensive lens thinking I'd never have much use for it, but it has quickly become my favourite. The rather bulbous lens and short lens hood seen in the photo below means its picks up flare and ghosting fairly easily in bright light especially when pointed in the general direction of the sun. Its ideal place then is before sunrise, after sunset or in low light in the opposite direction of the light source as in the image above.

Olympus E-M1 with Olympus 7mm-14mm f/2.8 PRO lens

Olympus E-M1 with Olympus 7mm-14mm f/2.8 PRO lens

I've been framed!

I have been thrilled with the interest in my photography on canvas. These three are hanging at home. I'm very happy to know that my photography which you won't find in The Warehouse is hanging on walls in other homes. Speaking of which, my 2017 calendar print of 300 is all but sold. It's been a great success. I now have a local holiday resort seeking my work, so its slowly but surely ratcheting up as a very satisfying hobby.

Cheers

Chris

 

 

 

Every cloud........

I have a fascination with the ever changing sky. I think I always have had. Cloud can be a bit of a regional trademark like the infamous easterly cloud and accompanying chill that sweeps over Christchurch from the sea, or the equally recognisable nor-west arch of the Canterbury plains. 

We are fortunate here in the Bay of Plenty to have some pretty awesome weather including brilliant cloud form. In the warmer months this could be because this is a weather convergence zone. A pool of warmer air often sits over the bay and when cooler air from the south arrives there's a bit of a tussle as the warm and cold air meet.  This can cause upwelling cumulonimbus cloud which at sunset is often a good reason to drag the camera out or alternatively just stare at the sky. 

Thunderstorm over the Bay of Plenty coast illuminated by the last light of the day. 1/125sec f/4.5 ISO 200

Thunderstorm over the Bay of Plenty coast illuminated by the last light of the day. 1/125sec f/4.5 ISO 200

Some years ago I captured the most amazing thunderstorm cell I have ever seen. It looked like an atomic bomb test. I recall driving home and seeing this sky from another world out to sea. I couldn't get home fast enough! I rushed inside, grabbed a camera and sprinted to the beach. This thunderstorm was heading out into the bay after delivering a very generous amount of hail. Regretfully I no longer have that image in the precisely 19185 photos I currently have in my catalogue. The original was lost in one of my earlier desktop PC replacement/data transfers. By coincidence I did see it pop up in a Facebook feed not so long ago. Some guy in Whakatane was trying to pass it off as his.  Any way as a consolation prize here is another image of a storm front crossing the coast and heading out into the bay. The calm of the ocean belies the turbulence that must have been going on up in that sky.  

Ocean bound storm front crossing the Bay of Plenty coast. 

Ocean bound storm front crossing the Bay of Plenty coast. 

Another 'armageddon' image taken early one very stormy morning. The wind blowing along the beach was so strong it was like being sandblasted. In the lower right of the image poor Toby the dog is getting a sandblasting. 

Came a stormy dawn. Our dog Toby is getting sandblasted in lower right of photo.

Came a stormy dawn. Our dog Toby is getting sandblasted in lower right of photo.

Then there was a time when I couldn't be bothered carrying my camera gear but fortunately did have an iPhone in my pocket. I was near Pilot Bay in Mount Maunganui taking no notice of anything in particular when I turned around and saw this. Wow! Nearly ripped the stitches out of my jeans trying to pull the phone camera out.

Anvil shaped thunderstorm cloud over the Kaimai Ranges, Bay of Plenty, NZ. Taken with an iPhone

Anvil shaped thunderstorm cloud over the Kaimai Ranges, Bay of Plenty, NZ. Taken with an iPhone

This cloud formation one recent evening was quite striking. I loved the alignment. New Zealand Meteorological Service picked up on this and featured it on their Instagram feed.

Mount Maunganui Beach. 1/200sec, f/6.3 ISO 200

Mount Maunganui Beach. 1/200sec, f/6.3 ISO 200

These are just a very small sample of countless photos I have taken where the cloud has been the main attraction. They are often fleeting moments especially in the golden hour, that warm light period either side of sunrise and sunset. The last photo in this series (below) I took in Bray, Dublin, Ireland. On the day it was bitterly cold and there were intermittent snow showers. Standing on the beach promenade this menacing cloud decided it was heading our way. It brought with it a dumping of snow and sleet. It was then that a cosy little pub across the road became a very attractive place to be. 

Bray, Dublin, Ireland

Bray, Dublin, Ireland

The silver lining.......They're out there! 

Earlier this year I was contacted by 'a long lost relative' who had read an earlier blog entry on our Wagner history.  Not only is he called Chris, but we also both worked for the same business in Wellington at different times back in the 1980's. He was finding markets for dairy products and I was collecting payments from buyers. When I wasn't doing that I was playing indoor bowls, or pool, or darts in the staff cafeteria. When I wasn't playing bowls, pool, or darts in the staff cafeteria I was drinking in the fully ranged staff bar on a Friday evening. What on earth happened to those glory days where work and play really was the same thing. 

Chris Wagner & Chris Taylor. Ohope Beach, 1 Oct 2016.

Chris Wagner & Chris Taylor. Ohope Beach, 1 Oct 2016.

Chris's grandfather Herman Wagner and my great grandmother Lisa Wagner were brother and sister. It was wonderful to finally meet at Chris and wife Yulia's Ohope Beach motel complex and see that we had some common ancestry and some common photos in our family photo albums. We also have a common taste in wine, except I possibly, well probably, well ok definitely tasted too much of it.

Chris's wife Yulia is an astoundingly talented artist, painter, designer and special effects artist. We very much enjoyed our time with them and THAT bed was the most comfortable bed I can recall sleeping in, in a motel/hotel.

Well, time to run along for now.

Best wishes all and may the sun shine. No really, may it please shine! What a predominantly cloudy wet spring it has been so far.