Rangipo Desert, North Island, New Zealand. Image: Su Leslie 2019
Early morning mists create wonderful soft light and I’m lucky to live in an area that still has some tall trees to silhouette against the lightening sky.
The post title comes from the famous balcony scene of Romeo and Juliet. Though of course, Romeo was using “soft” as an exclamation, and was certainly more interested in wooing Juliet than any quality of the light around them.
Photographers love the ‘golden hour’ whether it’s in the morning or evening.
I’m a morning person, so I’d expected to have more sunrise shots in my archive. Surprisingly, that’s not the case.
What I did find though, is that my morning shots tend to have fewer traces of humanity in them — whether people themselves, or our planet-covering artifacts.
Life is anything but tranquil at the moment, and I need a gentle reminder to slow down, worry less and notice more the beauty around me.
In Whanganui a couple of weeks ago I saw this rather imposing structure at the Bason Botanic Gardens. The words on it read:
“Through the trouble of this world there still runs a thin stream of serenity for those who seek it.” — Stanley Bason
In 1966, Stanley Bason gifted his home and farm of 25 hectares to the city of Whanganui, for the “creation of a botanical reserve.” He firmly believed that as population increased and urbanisation spread, people would need beautiful, open spaces in which to relax and escape the pressures of everyday life.
His generosity and foresight have provided the people of Whanganui, and visitors, with just that.
My little escape to the Waikato is over and I’m back at my desk. Although the sun is still shining today, I’m already missing the big skies and expansive views that both dwarfed and nestled me while I was away.
It is sometimes said that “real” New Zealand begins south of the Bombay Hills, which mark the place where southern Auckland becomes northern Waikato. I spent some of the happiest of my early years in a small South Waikato town, and still get a rush of longing when I feel I’ve left Auckland behind.
Traffic congestion is one of the things I find most stressful in my current life. I hate the environmental impact of thousands of semi-stationery cars and I hate the waste of my time and emotional energy; trapped in my car, or planning alternative routes and workarounds. New Zealand isn’t a huge country, but there are so many places where traffic isn’t a problem — what are we doing wrong?
I am happiest near water, and while I’ve been a long way from the coast for the last couple of days (relatively speaking — this is New Zealand), I spent time by the Waikato River, and finally “found” Lake Waikare — which I’ve glimpsed hundreds of times from the car. Apparently it’s less than two metres deep — and sadly, quite polluted. It did look lovely from my vantage point though (1).
Despite the brevity of my time away, I think I have achieved some of the clarity that Lindbergh talked about. I don’t know what the future is going to look like, but I do know that it’s easier to plan when I’m not in the middle of everything that isn’t working any more.
The boy-child has now abandoned his photographic project involving sky trails, sunrises, late nights and ridiculously early mornings. I guess that means an end to those frantic drives across town wondering if we’ll make it to whatever beach he’s decided on in time to capture the intense colours of a new sun sliding up from the horizon.
I’ll miss those drives; fleeting moments of togetherness with a child who’s becoming a man faster than the night sky transforms into day (metaphorically, ok).