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What becomes of the broken hearted?

I have travelled to Christchurch, the city I was raised in, several times since the devastating and tragic earthquake of Feb 2011. Each time I have been astounded by the destruction and the erasing of so many areas and structures that I knew. The feeling of loss lingers every time I'm confronted with it on return visits. 

In the heart of the city lies the remains of the shattered ChristChurch Cathedral. The cathedral built between 1864-1904 was envisioned from the early planning of Christchurch. It's quite surreal looking up and seeing loose building materials swaying in the wind blowing through the wreckage of the nave of what was once a city centrepiece. I well recall the tolling of the bells and climbing the internal staircase of the spire to views of the inner city and always tourists milling around the entrance. 

ChristChurch Cathedral, Christchurch, NZ. 16 August 2016

ChristChurch Cathedral, Christchurch, NZ. 16 August 2016

I grew up in the eastern suburbs. New Brighton Mall was an almost mandatory Saturday outing. As a kid I recall we went there as a family most Saturday's always keeping an eye out for a goat tethered on the verge of New Brighton Road. It was vibrant and buzzing through the 1970's until the advent of nationwide Saturday trading in 1980.

Where once was life. New Brighton in its hey-day. 

Where once was life. New Brighton in its hey-day. 

From that moment it started to bleed and nothing could arrest it's demise. What a dreadful cold empty place it is now especially in winter. Closed empty shopping and commercial premises and the streets devoid of people save for the couple getting happy smoking a joint in their car on the foreshore. The extent of 'the rot' crosses the road to the dirty empty rubbish strewn foreshore playground. Even the beachside library is closed and the books all under plastic wrap. Its tragic that a seaside location like this (albeit often battered by that legendary cold easterly wind) has been left unloved.

New Brighton Mall, 16 August 2016.

New Brighton Mall, 16 August 2016.

A real asset to the New Brighton foreshore is the 300 metre long New Brighton Pier, the longest pier in Australasia. Completed in 1997 it will close later this year for earthquake damage repair and reopen in 2018. A few more attractions such as long talked about hot salt water pools and a revived retail scene could see this neglected part of the city regain some of its former glory.

Last light on the New Brighton Pier, 16 August 2016. 1/250sec @ f/7.1 ISO 200

Last light on the New Brighton Pier, 16 August 2016. 1/250sec @ f/7.1 ISO 200

Whenever I return to Christchurch I feel a great sense of loss and loss of belonging. I spent some 40 years there and the entire suburb I was raised in has gone and been replaced by a wilderness vista. Much of the eastern side of the city looks pretty forlorn. In the central city much heritage has gone and for the time being large chunks of now cleared land are given over to parking lots. Where there is new development and rebuilding there are some very attractive designs and 'the new' Christchurch of the future is set to in decades ahead become a very attractive city again.

Oxford Terrace, Christchurch, NZ. August 2016. iPhone 6s photo.

Oxford Terrace, Christchurch, NZ. August 2016. iPhone 6s photo.

There is one constant that defines Christchurch and that is its claim to be a garden city. There is arguably no better time to be in the city than in Spring. While a little early, even in August a walk through the botanical gardens daffodil lawns is a refreshing and relaxing experience.

Daffodil Lawns, Christchurch Botanical Gardens, 6 August 2016.

Daffodil Lawns, Christchurch Botanical Gardens, 6 August 2016.

Punting on the River Avon on a winter afternoon. Christchurch, NZ, 6 August 2016. 1/2500sec @f/4 ISO 200

Punting on the River Avon on a winter afternoon. Christchurch, NZ, 6 August 2016. 1/2500sec @f/4 ISO 200

The most recent trips to Christchurch were centred around my ailing father-in-law who sadly passed away on 13 August 2016 just a few months short of his 90th birthday. Rest in peace John and thank you for giving me my treasure Margie.

6 December 2015

6 December 2015

It is so much darker when a light goes out than it would have been if it had never shone.
— John Steinbeck, The Winter of Our Discontent

 

 

First gear

I have had countless cameras over the years from a succession of compact point and shoots cameras to bridge cameras such as the Canon PowerShot s5. I guess after a time with each camera I got to the stage where I wanted a little more range and functionality. It was an article on the Panasonic GX1, an early example of the evolving mirrorless compact system cameras (CSC) that was the catalyst for getting me into this new level of cameras which provide the functionalities of a larger DSLR camera in a smaller lighter package, which is more incentive to carry the camera gear out more often. I ended up buying the Panasonic GX1 with the kit lens. It was a great camera but I then started hankering for better optics to be found in premium lenses. I bought a couple of new lenses and then found that Olympus lenses were compatible and Olympus had some pretty flash lenses. There was however an issue with Panasonic lenses having built in image stabilisation, but with Olympus the image stabilisation is built into the camera body. I bought the superb Olympus 75mm f1.8 portrait and street photography lens but had compatibility problems with image stabilisation. At this point I decided I wanted to switch to all Olympus gear.

After in-depth research I bought the newly released Olympus O-MD E-M1, the flagship camera in the Olympus compact system camera range.

Olympus O-MD E-M1

Olympus O-MD E-M1

This is the camera I still use today. Its had about four firmware updates in its life, each one enhancing the cameras ability even more. A feature that I really love in this camera is the Olympus 5-axis image stabilisation. This innovative feature enables hand-held shooting in dark locations and during telephoto photography without worrying about camera shake and the need for a tripod. It also prevents image shake in the viewfinder for stable framing. The Olympus O-MD E-M1 is without doubt my favourite camera to date. I love it! It is widely expected that Olympus will soon announce a MKII successor to the E-M1. I'm sure I will be eyeing it up

As I have progressively added to my gear, I'm pretty sure I will stay with the compact system camera category and in particular Olympus unless some generous manufacturer mistakenly gifts me a full professional kit in another brand .

I have two critically acclaimed Olympus lenses and a five star rated Panasonic portrait and street photography lens. I will cover these lenses and show specific photos taken with each, in a future post.  

 

The week that was

Without a shadow of doubt the highlight this week was being at an awards dinner at Sky City, Auckland, where my son Mike was announced as team member/employee of the year from over 1000 staff in the business he and I work for. It was a very emotional moment. I was so thrilled and extremely proud of him. 

9 March 2016. Sky City, Auckland.

9 March 2016. Sky City, Auckland.

 

Constructing a dislike for deconstruction

I had breakfast this week at a recently opened cafe in Mount Maunganui. After trying to find something at a reasonable cafe price for breakfast, which is not easy in this country, I settled on a salmon and cream cheese bagel. When it was presented, I was somewhat taken aback. I have only ever come across food presented in similar fashion once before and as with that time I won't be returning to this place anytime soon. This is a salmon and cream cheese bagel in the new era of deconstruction. I was asked whether or not I wanted cutlery? What a stupid question. Hell, no: I was so eager to bend down and lick it from the plate and spread it on the bagel with my tongue! I must remember to smear cream cheese and I guess any other spreads, chutneys and toppings across the kitchen bench at home when we have dinner guests so that they can enjoy the delights of constructing their own snack. My long black coffee to my utter disappointment wasn't presented as an empty cup, a few beans, a grinder and hot water. You'd think they'd get that right too!

Neighbours at war. It's the bringing together that counts.

Neighbours at war. It's the bringing together that counts.

 

I'm thinking it won't be long until we buy shirts with unattached sleeves to sew on. Oh wait! I bought a shirt this week and when I unpacked it a pre-cut piece of material in a pocket shape fell out.

Pocketing the difference

Pocketing the difference

I was quite perplexed as to how a shirt could come off the production line and go through the folding and packaging stage accompanied by a homeless half finished detached pocket. I shook the package further thinking there would be matching cotton, a mini sewing machine and instructions. Unbelievably there wasn't. I'm worried about my next pair of shoes now as I don't have an industrial sewing machine to attach the leather upper to the sole. For now I just have to deconstruct my thoughts about it all.

  

Family matters

Following on from my previous posts on family ancestry from my mother's side, here is a bit of information from my father's side. In the first photo taken way back in 1868 are my great, great grandparents Wilson and Anne Taylor. The photo is taken outside their thatched roof earth walled home in Dunbars Road, Halswell, Christchurch, New Zealand. To the far left is my great grandfather aged six years.The family emigrated from England, via Australia. In the second photo are my great, great grandparents on their farm in Springston, south east of Christchurch. They both died in 1887 just eleven hours apart. 

Halswell, Christchurch, New Zealand (1868)

Halswell, Christchurch, New Zealand (1868)

In the 1868 photo above is my great grandfather Arthur on the left aged six and my great, great grandparents seated third and fourth from the left. Second from the left is Charles (17), Edwin (4), my great, great grandfather Wilson (44) and he may be holding Ellen (2), George (12), my great, great grandmother Anne (39) holding baby Henry, and William (9).

My  great, great grandparents Wilson and Anne Taylor (1880)

My  great, great grandparents Wilson and Anne Taylor (1880)

My great grandparents Annie & Arthur. My grandfather Arthur Gordon Taylor is the boy to the right.

My great grandparents Annie & Arthur. My grandfather Arthur Gordon Taylor is the boy to the right.