Friday, October 28, 2011

A Bridge too far ...

The suspension bridge that crosses the Eyre River at Wolff's Road is a majestic though dilapidated structure with its ends buried deep in bush. Built in 1945 to carry foot traffic, it's span is about 80m give or take a bit. One can be excused for wondering why it was built; the river floods on only a few days a year and there are other crossings readily available by car. But, in 1945 the alternative crossings were either Oxford or Mandeville and, as The Press observed, the flooded river "kept children from school, farmers from stock, cream from porridge, and urgent supplies from the farms." Today, only the foolhardy would attempt to cross the broken structure, but it seems a shame if its only destiny is to become rotted wood and rusted steel.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Economic inequality; it hurts

In this powerful talk, Richard Wilkinson argues that a society that supports economic inequality is a sick society. Whether you agree with them or not, Richard puts a statistical finger on what 'Occupy Wall Street' (and its clones) are all about. Well worth a watch.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Not so much a game

It's black on blue - again.
Some think it's just a game
while others that it's life or death.
There will be casualties.

It's black on blue - again.
The money's on the black or
in the boxes, anyway.
It's all about the money.

It's black on blue - again.
We look on, helpless or turn
away, unable to bear the sight.
Tell me when its over.

Its black on blue - again.
A stadium of four million
watching as the black runs out.
"Go the blacks" they shout.

Its black on blue again.
Two sides in a well matched game
Played on the Astrolabe fouled reef.
Blue, may you beat the black.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Rediscovering the opalotype

Photographic history is littered with now obsolete processing methods, like the cyanotype or the daguerreotype. One of the advantages of today's digital darkroom is being able to revisit some of these processes without needing to acquire specialist materials and chemicals and engage in strange rituals in darkened rooms. One such process that I am really enjoying is the opalotype.

Opalotypes were produced on milky white glass plates and the resulting monochrome image was then hand tinted to produce pictures that were (according to Wikipedia) "close to watercolour or even pastel in its softer coloring and tender mood." I suspect that it is probably this quality that draws me to the effect for certain subjects; like the Old Iron Bridge near Twizel in South Canterbury .

What do you think of the opalotype; nice and subtle or too last, last, century?

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Mind bogglingly big

Last weekend we ventured far into the southern depths of Canterbury in search of some r&r. But we also wanted to see the hydro scheme and to visit Mt. Cook. This is MacKenzie country where, even in Spring, the grass is brown and the trees few. The 'brownness' of the MacKenzie is a bit disconcerting at first until you realise that the monotone simply draws attention to the broad sweep of the landscape.

This is HUGE country, where even a road seems little more than a temporary pencil mark on the land. The hills roll ever onward in their brownness eventually to be dwarfed by the towering peaks of the Southern Alps. It makes one feel small; not much bigger (nor significant) than the rabbits that seem to find it all to their liking.  But again, the bigness of the landscape points to another bigness: the bigness of what human beings have achieved in remoulding this landscape for the hydro scheme.

Of course there are the lakes, but they only require a dam to be built and filled with water. More amazing is the extent of the earthworks that have been necessary to reshape the land so that broad canals can gently carry water from one lake to the next. It's a big land which has been levelled and built up to suit man's needs, rather than natures whim. To stand there and ponder the amount of work necessary to sculpt a land in this way just makes the mind boggle.

Part of the canal running from Lake Ohau and, eventually, into Lake Benmore

Friday, October 7, 2011

Playing in the rain

The advantage of rainy days is that I can sit at my computer and play with new ideas and approaches to pictures, without feeling guilty (about the length of the grass, the weeds and the vegetable garden). Having upgraded Photoshop Elements to version 10 (from 8) and Topaz Black and White effects to version 1.1, I have had quite a lot to play with. This large format (100 cm width) picture was the result of a couple of days 'play':

Originally taken with a 10mm lens on a Nikon D80, it is now a 7,800 x 5,400 pixel image file on a canvas texture, as shown in this 100% crop from one edge:

I have been hugely impressed with the Topaz line of digital filters and, now that PS Elements has proper layer masks (from v9) the combination of PS Elements and Topaz filters makes for a great post processing suite at a reasonable cost.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Spotlight on Stonegrooves

Every month we take down one exhibition and hang another. If I get a chance, I like to grab a few pictures from each exhibition - mainly for my own records. This last exhibition included work by Ruth Killoran an artist from Christchurch who is both a sculptor and a painter. This picture is taken through one of Ruth's sculptures towards one of her pictures.

I was fascinated by the abstract lines and shapes and the contrast with the rectangular painting. None of which shows off Ruth's work to best advantage of course, so if you want to see the beautiful work she creates, hop on over to her website at:

Monday, October 3, 2011

From words to pictures

Good to be getting back to the visuals after spending the last few months shovelling words from one pile to another. Of course, it was raining today, so it was back into the archives to try out some new ideas and processing techniques in black and white. Well actually, these were a pair of quad tone pictures; sort of leaning towards towards sepia but not quite.

Both taken with a 15mm (efl) lens on a Nikon D80 earlier this year. The bridge is the Waimakariri Gorge Bridge, now a single lane road bridge, but originally built for rail.