Save the date: Thursday 14th January

We’re back!

Del (Curls n Skirls) and I had so much fun hosting virtual afternoon tea in 2020, we’re doing it all over again.

I hope you’ll be able to join us — anytime from about 3pm next Thursday (Kiwi Time = GMT+13). Golden Queen peaches are in season here (my absolute favourites) so expect to find them on the menu. And I still have a whole Christmas cake waiting to be eaten.

Favourite images of 2020

Waiting for rain. Highway 22, NZ. Image: Su Leslie 2020

The Lens-Artists challenge for this week is to look back at 2020 through our favourite photos.

These are not an attempt to make sense of the year (as in last week’s Changing Seasons), but to consider my journey as a photographer.

I love photographing landscape, but not the picturesque and panoramic landscapes of travel blogs and brochures. More and more, I want to capture the back roads, the mundane, the damaged. I love how small changes in light can render the ordinary, if only fleetingly, extraordinary.

Don’t look back. Ararimu Valley Road, Auckland. Image: Su Leslie 2020

Water, especially the sea, has always been a focus for my photography. But again, I’m interested in the quiet places, the cloudy days.

Not even the fishermen. Wharf, Island Bay, Auckland, NZ. Image: Su Leslie 2020

Beach walk. Kariotahi beach, NZ. Image: Su Leslie 2020

Shooting indoors, I find myself again drawn to the quiet, liminal spaces.

Echoes. Image: Su Leslie 2020

Rest. Image: Su Leslie 2020

I started 2020 with the intention to take more portraits, both to improve my technical skills and to make me engage with people more. With hindsight, yeah, I picked the wrong year.

Windows on the soul. Image: Su Leslie 2020

The guy above asked me to take his photo. He thought I’d be interested in his moko (tattoo), and I was. But I was way more interested in his eyes.

In the middle of lock-down, and lacking human subjects, I shot a “Portraits of the Mundane” series. The goal was to play with lighting, but I enjoyed the results too.

Whisked. Image: Su Leslie 2020

All that remains. Image: Su Leslie 2020

As in the past, my photo archives are overflowing with images of food and flowers. With both, I think my skills have improved over the year, but (perhaps because the field is so crowded) I don’t have any real favourites — except perhaps this.

And probably because it’s one of the few flower shots I’ve captured that I think works well in black and white.

After the rain. Image: Su Leslie 2020

Lens-Artist Photo Challenge | favourite images of 2020

Last image: 2020

Last image 2020: SD card. Su Leslie 2020

Last image 2020: phone.

Brian at Bushboy’s World had the fun idea of posting the last photo of each month, without editing or explanation.

The rules are simple:
1. Post the last photo on your SD card and/or last photo on your phone for the 30th November.
2. No editing – who cares if it is out of focus, not framed as you would like or the subject matter didn’t cooperate.
3. You don’t have to have any explanations, just the photo will do
4. Create a Pingback to Brian’s post or link in the comments
5. Tag “The Last Photo”

The Changing Seasons, December 2020

Metaphorical, as well as literal sunset. Napier, NZ. Image: Su Leslie 2020

Well, 2020 eh! What can I say?

In my January Changing Seasons post I wrote:

… Having got through Christmas without the usual stresses, I gave myself time to think about, and write down, some goals and plans. Against the backdrop of a troubled world, they are very modest and focused on how to live simply and gently. My strategy, I decided, would be summed up as proactive hopefulness.

I’m thinking again about goals for the year ahead, and realise that they are much the same. But the world has become more troubled, and I’ll have to work harder at proactive hopefulness.

To help me (and because it seems I’ve taken very few good photos this month), I’m going to revisit the changing seasons of 2020 through some of the images that gave me hope, or pleasure, or pause to think.


An invitation to tea. Image Su Leslie 2019

The first virtual afternoon tea. Image: Su Leslie 2020

Not so much the image as the monthly event that began with this piece of plum cake. It seemed to strike a chord and many of us have enjoyed sharing virutal kai and korero during the year.


Girl in a field. Cornwall Park, Auckland. Image: Su Leslie 2020

In February, this image spoke to me only of the drought then (and still) afflicting my city. Within weeks, the large out-of-shot wedding of which the girl was a part would been impossible as the country went into Covid-fighting lock-down.


Sometimes, you just need yellow flowers. Image: Su Leslie 2020

A long weekend in Christchurch allowed us to reconnect with whanau and celebrate the emergence of a new city from the devastation of the 2010-2011 earthquakes. A walk in the botanic gardens produced this shot, a reminder of how much beauty can be found in nature, if we choose to see it.


Lucas Creek at Greenhithe Wharf. Feeling lucky to live in such a beautiful place. Image: Su Leslie 2020

During the five weeks of Covid-19 lockdown, we rediscovered our neighbourhood through daily walks. Even after 20 years here, I never tire of this view of the Upper Waitemata from our local wharf.


Experiments in PhotoShop. Image: Su Leslie 2020

Inspired by other bloggers creating clever and beautiful images in PhotoShop, I spent an afternoon learning to use some new editing tools. This is definitely the best of my experiments.


Turning homegrown fruit into marmalade. Image: Su Leslie 2020

Our citrus trees provided a bumper harvest year — with the orange (planted by mistake I think) producing more fruit than we could eat or give away. I am grateful for this harvest and for land on which to grow food.


Waikato sunrise at Mercer, NZ. Image; Su Leslie 2020

As Auckland traffic has become more and more horrendous, very early starts are the most sanity-preserving option for road-trips south. In winter, this has the added bonus of arriving at Mercer in time to watch the sunrise from the banks of the Waikato River. No matter how often I stop here, the view still fills me with joy.


Tui in a cherry tree. Image; Su Leslie 2020

I never tire of watching our native birds, and celebrate the fact that tui seem to be returning to our neighbourhood in greater numbers every year.


Tākapu (Australasian gannet), Muriwai colony, New Zealand. Image: Su Leslie 2020

Wildlife photography is not my super-power, but occasionally I take a shot I really love. Finding gannets not in motion is difficult; finding a pair not completely surrounded by others was the real challenge.


Aotearoa New Zealand voted to give the Labour Government a second term.

Although already demonstrating feet of clay on some really important issues, the Labour government we elected with a resounding majority proved at least that New Zealanders will choose inclusion over divisiveness, and kindness over bullying and intimidation.


First pohutukawa blossom. Image: Su Leslie 2020

The arrival of pohutukawa flowers is a sure sign summer is approaching.


Christmas window, coffee shop Hawera, NZ. Image; Su Leslie 2020

A very wet day in Hawera, and I had to stop and admire these very clever Christmas decorations. I’m sure they made others smile too, and I can only hope that the cups were bio-degradable.

Image; Su Leslie 2020

As I write this, the most difficult year many of have experienced is almost over. It would be lovely to think that we can draw a line under 2020 and move on. But the reality is that tomorrow will almost certainly be as difficult and dangerous and stressful as today.

So I’ll raise my glass simply to a new day. I hope that for all of us it is only one of many, and that in each of those days we find purpose and joy.

Aroha nui

About The Changing Seasons

The Changing Seasons is a monthly project where bloggers around the world share their thoughts and feelings about the month just gone. We all approach this slightly differently — though generally with an emphasis on the photos we’ve taken during the month.

For many of us, looking back over these photos provides the structure and narrative of our post, so each month is different.

Others focus on documenting the changes in a particular project — such as a garden, an art or craft project, or a photographic diary of a familiar landscape.

But in the end, it is your changing season, and you should approach it however works for you.

There are no fixed rules around post length or photo number — just a request that you respect your readers’ time and engagement. (1)

Tags and ping-backs

Tag your photos with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons so that others can find them

Create a ping-back to this post, so that I can update it with links to all of yours.


Tish at Writer on the Edge

Margaret, at From Pyrenees to Pennines joins us this month

Natalie at Little Pieces of Me

Tracy at Reflections of an Untidy Mind

Pauline at Living in Paradise


Brian at Bushboy’s World

Marilyn at Serendipity, Seeking Intelligent Life on Earth

Ju-Lyn at All Things Bright and Beautiful

Sarah at Art Expedition

Gil at Talking Thailand

(1) If you find you have more than 20 or so photos, you’ve either had a pretty exciting month, or should consider not showing them all. Similarly, if you’ve recently posted images on your blog, it’s probably not a good idea to use them again unless they help to tell your story.