Both sides, now

Storm clouds over a field of grazing cows. Seen from the roadside, State Highway 16 Kaipara, NZ. Image: Su Leslie, 2017. Edited with Snapseed.

Storm clouds gathering. Seen from the roadside, State Highway 16 Kaipara, NZ. Image: Su Leslie, 2017. Edited with Snapseed.

You know that thing, where you’re traveling along and in one direction the weather is all clear blue skies, but on the other it looks like a storm coming?

The Big T and I found that driving back from Atiu Creek at the weekend. Off to the west, the Kairpara Harbour was fair glistening in the sun. At the same time, huge dark clouds were lowering over the east.

Storm clouds approaching over hillside and mangroves. State Highway 16, Kaipara, NZ. Image: Su Leslie, 2017. Edited with Snapseed.

Storm clouds approaching. State Highway 16, Kaipara, NZ. Image: Su Leslie, 2017. Edited with Snapseed.

The contrast in light was breathtaking. Grass in the slightly parched fields seemed to glow golden, and foliage shimmer, against the matte chalkboard sky.

Just a few miles further south, and the clouds were behind us.

Since I’ve pinched a Joni Mitchell song title for this post, here is the song to enjoy.

Written for Sally D’s Mobile Photography Challenge at Lens and Pens by Sally. This week the theme is black and white.

Connected at the heart

Close up of blue thistle head, filling frame. Image: Su Leslie, 2017. Edited with Snapseed and Stackables.

Blue thistle. Image: Su Leslie, 2017. Edited with Snapseed and Stackables.

It’s odd how the brain makes leaps when you need it to.

Fellow blogger Gallivanta at Silkannthreades, sent me this link (Community Spirit, at The Mundanity of it All)  about a community rallying around to help an elderly woman, recently widowed, prepare her house for sale. It’s a story about people engaged in everyday goodness, and I’m sure many (hopefully most) of us could tell a similar story.

Because despite the very real, very scary things that are happening in our world, everyday life for many of us is at least sprinkled with kindness. With a desire for positive, even if fleeting, connections with others.

And oddly, that’s where the blue thistle comes in. All those individual flowers separated from the others on the surface, are of course joined at the centre, and wouldn’t survive without that connection. Nor would the plant as a whole survive without the individual flowers reaching outwards.

Maybe that is something we need to remember. That no matter how much we grow out and in our own direction, we all spring from the same heart. It’s both what feeds us, and makes us meaningful.

Written for Sally D’s Mobile Photography Challenge at Lens and Pens by Sally

Sea, sky and serenity

Two girls silhouetted against darkening sky. Sunset, Muriwai Beach, New Zealand. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

Watching the sun setting, Muriwai Beach, New Zealand. Image: Su Leslie, 2017. Edited with Snapseed.

The long-predicted rain has arrived and is expected to remain across the country for a few days, so I’m glad the Big T and I spent last evening at Muriwai Beach.

It wasn’t the most spectacular sunset we’ve ever seen, but we both felt refreshed by the combination of sea air and nature’s light show (and the gannet colony — but that’s another post).

Posted to Sally D’s Mobile Photography Challenge at Lens and Pens by Sally.

The face of disappointment

Competitor in wood-chopping competition, Helensville A&P Show, New Zealaned. Image: Su Leslie, 2017.

Axeman taking part in standing block wood-chopping competition at Helensville A&P Show. Image: Su Leslie, 2017. Edited with Snapseed.

The Big T and I visited the Helensville A&P (Agricultural & Pastoral) Show at the weekend.

Agriculture is a hugely important part of New Zealand’s history, economy and psyche, and  A&P Shows are a traditional way small towns up and down the country celebrate farming and rural life.

One of my favourite A&P attractions is wood-chopping. And no, I can’t explain why a city girl who has never used an axe to do much more than chop kindling can sit for hours and watch a bunch of men cut through logs of wood as a sport. But I can!

I think part of the attraction is simplicity. While rugby, soccer, etc all seem to have incredibly complex rules, wood-chopping is easy to understand. The first person to cut the block in two wins. Even allowing for the handicap system (a man with a microphone counting off the seconds before each competitor can start), it’s comprehensible even to me. And no offside rule!

The face of disappointment. A young axeman fails to place in a wood-chopping competitition at the Helensville A&P Show. Image: Su Leslie, 2017. Edited with Snapseed.

The face of disappointment. No placing for this wood-chopping competitor. Image: Su Leslie, 2017. Edited with Snapseed.

Axemen may not be regarded as sports superstars, but they seem equally dedicated to their sport. And the disappointment they feel in failure is no less real or painful to watch.

Contemplating the loss. Pensive and disappointed-looking competitor in wood-chopping at Helensville A&P Show. Image: Su Leslie, 2017. Edited with Snapseed.

Contemplating the loss. Competitor in wood-chopping at Helensville A&P Show. Image: Su Leslie, 2017. Edited with Snapseed.

“All that is in the heart is written on the face” — Ritu Ghatourey

Written for Sally D’s Mobile Photography Challenge at Lens and Pens by Sally.

Close-up shot of white agapanthus flowers, against black background. Image: Su Leslie, 2017, edited with Snapseed and Stackables.

Agapanthus flowers. Image: Su Leslie, 2017, edited with Snapseed and Stackables.

Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness. — Desmond Tutu

 

Posted to Sally D’s Mobile Photography Challenge at Lens and Pens by Sally.

“The heart asks pleasure first” … when music shows us nature’s beauty

Karekare Beach, NZ. Clouds and cliffs reflected in wet sand. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

Evening; Karakare Beach, New Zealand. Image: Su Leslie, 2017. Edited with Snapseed.

With about 15,000 km of coastline (for a landmass of 268,021 km²), New Zealand does beaches pretty well. But even by our standards, Karakare Beach on Auckland’s west coast is quite spectacular.

North end, Karekare Beach, NZ. Sky, clouds and cliffs reflected in wet sand. Image, Su Leslie, 2017. Edited with Snapseed.

North end, Karekare Beach, NZ. Image, Su Leslie, 2017. Edited with Snapseed.

Enjoying the last of the light, Karekare Beach, NZ. Image: Su Leslie, 2017. Edited with Snapseed.

Enjoying the last of the light, Karekare Beach, NZ. Image: Su Leslie, 2017. Edited with Snapseed.

Sun seting on shoreline, Karekare Beach, NZ. Image: Su Leslie, 2017. Edited with Snapseed.

Sunset, Karekare Beach, NZ. Image: Su Leslie, 2017. Edited with Snapseed.

For those of you who have seen Jane Campion‘s 1993 film, The Piano, Karekare is the beach where Ada and her daughter are abandoned with the piano. That scene is often remembered because of the music from Michael Nyman‘s beautiful soundtrack — ‘The Heart Asks Pleasure First.’

Close your eyes and listen. In your mind, you will be transported to Karekare.

Written for Sally D’s Mobile Photography Challenge at Lens and Pens by Sally.


NB: The title of Michael Nyman’s piece comes from Emily Dickinson’s poem of the same name.

Playtime in the electronic studio

Blurred, exposed twice, tweaked a bit ... Abstract image in blues and greens. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

Blurred, exposed twice, tweaked a bit … Image: Su Leslie, 2017

When photography took on the role of offering verisimilitude from painting, it freed painters to experiment with new forms of artistic expression.

Now, the ubiquity of photo-editing tools offers photographers a similar chance to experiment, play, and test the boundaries of the medium.

Blurred image; movement of the camera while shooting in woodland. Image:  Su Leslie, 2017

Error or art? Moving the camera while the shutter is open. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

In the past, “camera shake” and blurring made a photograph seem less valuable. Now such shots are just a starting point for creative play.

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Blurred, another double-exposure and tweaked a bit more. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

Written for Sally D’s Mobile Photography Challenge at Lens and Pens by Sally.