Saturday, April 30, 2011

Avocados ... and steam engines!

Pretty cool eh?  The council has an avocado orchard and you're allowed to pop along and pick the fruit for free.  Just don't be greedy or silly.  Take five, and don't take them if they're not going to be useful.  Amazing!  In this user pays world in which we live, finding something like this is really rather special.  Are there any avocados?  Of course!
There's heaps of avocados, but they're all rather green and the notice does say they won't ripen if they're picked.  I'm not sure about this.  Reasonable sized avocados put amongst other fruits like bananas and oranges seem to go ripe rather well.  Any comments or hints on ripening avocados you'd like to share?

After visiting the avocado orchard we headed into Auckland City.  We'd decided to have a walk around Parnell ... quite a quaint part of the city with lovely old buildings and a pleasant atmosphere.  Anyway, whilst in Parnell we heard the unmistakable sound of a steam engine.  Mainline Steam were playing trains ... except these were big full size mainline steam locomotives ... not model trains.  We had a great time looking around the facility.
Mainline Steam's 4-8-4 J1211 "Gloria" outside their Parnell sheds.
"Gloria" at Mainline Steam in Parnell.  Built 1939 in Glasgow. 

Mainline Steam's Ja1267 in their  Parnell sheds.
Mainline Steam, Parnell, Auckland, New Zealand
Current Auckland locomotive and rolling stock climbing out of Auckland towards Newmarket through Parnell.

Somewhat futuristic interior or Auckland's Britomart railway station.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Toadstools ... again!

After tidying up in the garden today we noticed a pleasant little clump of toadstools.  We didn't manage tio get any shots of them until it had gone dark.  I used the 50mm lens with on camer flash and a second flash unit firing towards the camera in an attempt to fill in the very dark background shadows and perhaps give a more 3D effect to the shot.

As I mentioned earlier, it was pitch black outside and only when we looked at the photo did we see the slug!  Did you spot it yet?  Take a look at the second shot below.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

It's a slug!

Well, I now know at least one of the creatures that's devouring my toadstools.  Coming home tonight my daughter noticed a slug near the toadstools.  I quickly grabbed the camera and got a snap of the culprit!
I'm not altogether certain what type of slug this is.  We see more snails than slugs in general.  I'm also not convinced this creature is the one that has left the teethmarks ... but perhaps it did?  If you know more about the creatures that may be eating my toadstools, perhaps leave a comment.

It's autumn

The light is definitely changing as we press on through autumn.  We're now getting those lively golden hues in the evenings and can expect some misty mornings.  I came across an article about the Golden Hour you might find of interest.  Problem for me is that during the week I'm always heading off to or returning from work and my mind really isn't on taking a photograph.  Having said this, I did notice some rather nice evening light on a bougainvillea at the bottom of the garden this evening.  What do you think?
Aperture was set at f2.8 as I wanted to get the cotton palm out of focus, but with enough detail to get a hint of the textures in the leaves.  Spot exposure and focus on the bracts with the white flower, which, as it happens, is on the intersection of two golden sections.

I can remember reading about the Golden Section or Golden Mean many years ago when I started using an SLR.  The magazine ... I'm sure it was called "SLR Photographer" ... had a wonderful series on composition.  I was overseas in Jordan at the time and my mother would send me the magazine each month.  I'd devour each article and then try to mimic the techniques described in the magazine.  Colour shots were done on Kodachrome and sent back to the UK for processing.  I never saw the results for about 12 months until I returned from Jordan!  Quite different to now when you can see the result on the rear of the camera as soon as the shutter has fired.  Monochrome was easier and more cost effective, but the processing was pretty hit and miss with the primitive facilities at my disposal.  I might post a few of these old shots ... assuming the negs are still OK of course!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Cool Jazz ... Bluetrain at the Hardware Cafe.

Busy day today acting as taxi driver for the old girls.  As such, no pictures to show you from today ... but there are a few from the Titirangi Music Festival I didn't show yet.  One of the acts that really impressed me was Bluetrain.  
Bluetrain at the Hardware Cafe, Titirangi
Led by renowned Auckland jazz pianist Alan Brown, Bluetrain was formed as a duo in 1991 with sax player Chris Mason-Battley. With the addition of Matt Gruebner on bass and Jason Orme on drums, they released a self-titled and self-funded CD. Chris was later replaced by Steve Sherriff and augmented by Robbie Karena on guitar. The band went on to record No Free Lunch which won Jazz Album of The Year 1996, and subsequently Never You Mind in 1998. The band went their separate ways shortly after although it still exists as an occasional outfit.
The Hardware Cafe in the Centre of Titirangi.  Great atmosphere!

Bluetrain performed in the Hardware Cafe ... great place, full of atmosphere both inside and out!  Lighting was a bit awkward and I was at the limit of what the camera could do.  ISO was up at 6400 all the time, lens was wide open and the shutter speed ... well in many cases way slower than it should have been.
Bluetrain's audience at the Hardware Cafe.  A bit cramped, but well worth squeezing in :-)
Last shot in this post is of Chris Mason-Battley, one of the group's founding members.  I'd have like to get a shot or two of Alan Brown, but the light really wasn't doing me any favours.  Perhaps the band will let me know when they get together again and I might get a better chance of better lit shots of each band member.
Steve Sheriff, playing sax with Bluetrain in Titirangi's Hardware cafe.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Not the best.

Not the best of days today.  I had high hopes of it being a great day, but it all started going wrong with a couple of family members being a bit ill which meant we've remained at home.  Never mind ... at least we got the washing done!

Whilst at home I noticed some toadstools in the front yard.  From a distance they looked white and boring ... but get up close and they have quite a nice texture and pattern to them.
Front yard toadstool ... lovely patterns and textures.

Interesting.  When you stop to look at things instead of just taking a casual glance you see so much more.  You may remember me taking about this in a previous posts?   The picture from this earlier post has caused a bit of interest of late, and the poem ... well have a read and tell me what you think.

Are these teethmarks on the toadstool?  If they are ... who or what made them?
Back to the toadstools!  Besides the rather lovely patterns on their surfaces I noticed something else that made me smile.  Teethmarks!  Well, that's what they looked like to me.  Take a closer look at the second image in this post (click on the shot to get a larger version of the shot).  What do you reckon?  Teethmarks?  If they are ... who or what made them?

Somewhat fascinated with this discovery I started to look for more toadstools and came across the sight you see in the third image.  No toadstools ... but a hint that toadstools were there at one time.  Perhaps the toadstools in my yard are particularly tasty?  Can't say I'm ready to try them just yet, but I am intrigued as to whether they are edible and what creature has been having a bit of a nibble.  Can you tell me from the images if they'd be safe to eat?
Remains of two toadstools ... but what has been eating them?  Snails?  Hedgehog?

Back inside the house looking through the dining room window I noticed some lovely light on some strange flowers.  I still don't know what this plant is yet am sure somebody has told me.  The light was quite lovely, but then I noticed the flies and wasps.  Shame I don't have a macro lens.  These few shots were taken with a 50mm lens focussed as close as it would go at a wide aperture of f4 in an attempt to get a nice blurry background.  Click on the images to see them a little bigger and, if you know what the plant is called, perhaps add a comment so I'll be able to remember!
Flies enjoying the nectar ... did you notice the iridescent bug in the bottom right of the image? 

Wasps enjoying the nectar also.  Apparently at one time NZ didn't have any wasps ... they were introduced.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Whirimako Black

I'm sorry:-(  I forgot to show you some shots from Whirimako Black.  This concert was quite lovely.  A relaxed atmosphere with some beautiful songs performed by Whirimako Black.  I wasn't really sure what to expect, and was very pleasantly surprised with Whirimako's voice.  I was reminded of Ella Fitzgerald in many ways and quite disappointed that I couldn't spend more time just listening to this lovely lady instead of trying to get photographs and visit the other bands performing at the same time.

Anyway, if you get a chance to see Whirimako Black, take it.  You won't be disappointed.  Oh, the photos?  Quite a high ISO (3200 and higher) and focal lengths up around 200mm.  Still trying to get the 70-200mm f2.8 so, whilst using current equipment, apertures remain around f5.6.  Let me know what you think of the shots.
Whirimako Black at the Titirangi Theatre.
Whirimako Black and guitar at the Titirangi Festival of Music
Emotion aplenty from Whirimako Black at the Titirangi Festival of Music.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Titirangi Music Festival ... the last day :-(

Sadly the Music Festival has now ended, concluding with Carolina Moon and An Emerald City.  These two bands concluded what has been a wonderful weekend of music.  I don't think I found anyone disappointed with the events and have the impression most people were keen to come back for the 2012 Music Festival.  It's been a great event and congratulations are due to the event organisers.  Well done.

Carolina Moon and her ensemble performed music infused with sounds and textures from their personal journeys through rivers of inspired Indian time, flamenco Spain, Europe, the Americas, Australia, Aotearoa, and the folklore and legends of England.  Below are a few shots taken during Carolina's performance.  Red stage lights caused me a few problems ... I always seem to loose facial features with the red lights.  Converting to monochrome seems to provide a more pleasing image.  Anyway, take a squiz and let me know what you think.

The last band of the festival was An Emerald City.  These guys started off here in NZ in 2005 but are now based in Berlin.  As such we were quite fortunate to see the band at the Titirangi Festival of Music. I'll complete this post with a few images from their performance in the Titirangi Theatre.  There's a few more shots of "An Emerald City" here.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Titrangi Music Festival

Kim Halliday from the Pacific Curls
It's been a blast.  The venues and performances have been superb. Quality acts by seriously talented musicians.  It's been great and I can't wait for next year's event!

I've attached a few shots in this post, but there's heaps more here and here.  Check them out and let me know what you think.  If you want any shots, just email me ... you can see a link on the right of this page.

Highlights for me were the "Pacific Curls", "Blue Train", "Whirimako Black" and "The Big Muffin Serious Band".

I must admit to be being quite surprised with the number of artists performing with ukeleles.  I'd always think of George Formby and his lamp post when people mentioned ukeleles prior to attending this year's Titirangi Music Festival.  Not now!  I must admit now to thinking of the old ukelele in quite a different light.

Talking of light, even though I was shooting with quite high ISOs some of the lighting around Kim Halliday from the Pacific Curls was really quite special.  Let me know what you think.

Kim Halliday from the Pacific Curls

Steve Sherriff playing sax with Blue Train, Hardware Cafe, Titirangi

Arli Liberman performing with Blue Train in the Hardware Cafe