A walk on the beach

Te Henga/Bethells Beach, Auckland, NZ. Image: Su Leslie 2020

If I told you I encountered a major road-block when thinking about this post, you’d probably imagine some emotional or psychological barrier about which I’m going to unburden myself.

But actually, I missed a road sign announcing that Scenic Drive in Waitakere was closed to traffic, and found myself driving towards an actual blocked road. With the car behind me way too close for a safe U-turn, I ended up on Bethells Road, heading towards the beach.

Te Henga/Bethells Beach is one of four road-accessible beaches on Auckland’s (wild) west coast. Although it’s the closest to home, I seldom visit there, probably because the next closest — Muriwai — has the twin attractions of the gannet colony and a good fish and chip shop en route.

It’s school holidays here at the moment, but the beach was surprisingly quiet. Perhaps it was just too cold and overcast.

Although I saw a few people carrying surfboards, I didn’t see any actually in the water, and the surf life-saving tower wasn’t manned.

The closest anyone seemed to get was surf-casting.

I may have missed a road sign, but I did manage to notice lots of small treasures on the beach and in the surrounding bush.

Lens Artists Photo Challenge | A Photo Walk

Portraits of the mundane

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Image: Su Leslie 2020

I started 2020 with, if not resolutions, then written intentions. One was to take more portraits — partly to improve my technical skills and partly to force me to engage with people more.

Oh well, there’s always next year for the people part. And in the meantime, I am using this week’s Lens-Artists’ Photo Challenge with its theme of everyday objects to make ‘portraits of the mundane.’

A single flower

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Image: Su Leslie 2019

This week I have definitely spent more time baking than taking photographs, and I did toy with the idea of slightly altering this post to Friday Flours; wholemeal, white baker’s, spelt, rye, buckwheat — perhaps rice and coconut flours?

But I’ll spare you my attempt at humour and instead offer some images from the archive. Since this week’s Lens-Artists Challenge is to show one single flower — that’s what I’ve done. Or at least a bunch of shots of solitary flowers.

 

 

After the rain

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Chrysanthemum. Image: Su Leslie 2020

It rained most of yesterday and into the night. I woke this morning to find my plants hung with sparkling raindrops.

There has been almost no rain in Auckland since last December, so every drop is very welcome.

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Calendula. Image: Su Leslie 2020

The sun is shining now, but more rain is forecast, so there’s a wee happy dance going on at Casa Zimmerbitch.

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Calendula. Image: Su Leslie 2020

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Viola. Image; Su Leslie 2020

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Viola. Image; Su Leslie 2020

This week’s Lens-Artists Challenge theme is “all wet.” It’s nice to have some new images to offer.

 

Finding red

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Lang Ea, Pop! Boom! Bang! Sculpture in the Gardens, 2018. Image: Su Leslie

Red is a benevolent dictatorship.
— James Jannard, founder Oakley Inc.

Patti’s challenge was to ‘find something red.’ My personal challenge is not to go overboard with this. I love red; red clothes, red lipstick, red food, red cars and (I’m not sure I realised this, red art).

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Long ago (and far away). Red as armor in the days of office politics and shoulder pads. Image: The Big T, 1991.

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Seeing double. Image: Su Leslie 2019

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Work in progress: The Big T’s cafe racer. Image: Su Leslie 2018

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Chen Wenling, Harbour. Sculpture by the Sea, Bondi, 2015. Image: Su Leslie

And I know I’ve posted the Anish Kapoor sculpture before, but surely this fits Patti’s brief very well. Red art on a monumental scale: it is 85 metres long, and each end is 25m x 8m.

Red, of course, is the colour of the interior of our bodies. In a way it’s inside out, red.
— Anish Kapoor

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Anish Kapoor, Dismemberment, Site 1, 2009. Gibbs Farm Sculpture Park, NZ. Image: Su Leslie

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Anish Kapoor, Dismemberment, Site 1, 2009. Gibbs Farm Sculpture Park, NZ. Image: Su Leslie

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge | find something red

A special place

img_6329 Image: Su Leslie 2019

Last November I visited Taranaki in New Zealand’s North Island for the annual garden festival. Armed with my carefully annotated programme and map, I criss-crossed the provence, visiting an array of private gardens whose owners had kindly opened them to the public for the duration of the festival.

All were beautiful and interesting, but the one that has proved to be the most memorable was neither on my list, nor a private garden.

img_6316 Entrance, Hollard Gardens, Kaponga, Taranaki, NZ. Image: Su Leslie 2019

Hollard Gardens was established in 1927 by the then owners, Bernie and Rose Hollard. While the garden is now owned and managed by the Taranaki Regional Council, “Hollard Gardens is unique in the fact that it is an achievement of almost a lifetime of work by a private individual. It is a plantsman’s garden and a reflection of patience and horticultural skill.” (The History of Hollards)

“Bernie selected his plants based on personal appeal and whether they would fill gaps in his existing collections of species or varieties. The overall design of the garden considered not only the aesthetics, but whether a plant would thrive in its environment.” (The History of Hollards)

The gardens consist of several areas, including a woodland glade, avenues of lawn lined with different rhododendrons, hydrangeas and other flowering shrubs, and a kitchen garden.

It was the kitchen garden that made Hollard so memorable and special for me. It was one of several organic gardens I visited that have been designed according to permaculture principles, but the most accessible and informative.

That the garden is managed by the Regional Council demonstrates an official commitment to sustainable food production which I find refreshing and reassuring.

Lens-Artist Photo Challenge | a special spot

Also posted to Friday Flowers

… but on the other hand

I like to think it’s because my star sign is Libra …

Side Note: I *believe* in horoscopes only when they promise the really good stuff

Where was I? Right: I’m a Libra and apparently that makes me indecisive — and diplomatic. Which means the task of choosing favourites, even from my own work, is daunting. But that is Patti’s challenge for this week’s Lens Artists Photo Challenge | favourite photos of 2019, and I like the idea of looking back over a year’s work.

So here goes (with the caveat that today’s hot favourites could be tomorrow’s ‘also-rans’); images from 2019 that still speak to me.

January

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Redwoods Tree Walk, Rotorua. Image; Su Leslie 2019

Taken in early January when the Big T and I visited Rotorua, this shot reminds me of a peaceful afternoon on elevated walkways high in a redwood forest. I could use some of the cool, fragrant air right now.

February

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Summer fun. Road-trip with the Big T. Image: Su Leslie 2019

It’s become a bit of a “thing” to photograph T’s car in scenic locations. Maybe I should ask Audi for a job?

March

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Kereru (native wood pigeon) in Ti Kouka (cabbage tree). Image: Su Leslie 2019

One of the things that has brought me great joy in the past year is seeing native birds feasting on the bounty of our trees. With so much loss of habitat in the neighbourhood, the importance of maintaining a food source for our beautiful wildlife has never been greater.

April

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Portrait of the artist as teacher. Image: Su Leslie 2019

In April, my friend Claire sold her house and moved out of Auckland. We’ve been friends since our kids were at primary school and I miss her company, especially as I’d spent much of the previous year documenting her work as an artist and teacher.

May

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Sunset, Wynyard Quarter, Auckland, NZ. Image: Su Leslie 2019

I chose this shot of oil storage tanks at sunset simply because I think it’s beautiful.

June

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Image: Su Leslie 2019

On a winter’s day walk in the Auckland Domain, I found this shot already staged for me, either by nature or another’s hand. Serendipity.

July

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Welcoming party, morning walk in Turangi, NZ. Image: Su Leslie 2019

Definitely not the best shot I took in July, but a lovely reminder of a frosty morning in the central North Island town of Turangi.

August

Impressionistic double-exposure image. Colour close-up shot of pohutukawa leaves. Image has been slightly overexposed to create a soft effect in pale greens and apricot/bronze shades. Su Leslie 2019

Pohutukawa leaves; double exposure. Image: Su Leslie 2019

I finally found the multiple-exposure setting on my camera and had fun with pohutukawa leaves and some other things. I love the colour palette in this shot.

September

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Solace in the Wind, by Max Patte, Wellington waterfront. Image: Su Leslie 2019

One of the most photographed sculptures in New Zealand apparently. Certainly I can never resist trying to capture the changing moods of this powerful and beautiful work.

October

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Wisteria. Image: Su Leslie 2019

October was a month of flowers and new growth. I chose this particular image because I love the colours.

November

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Teahouse, Pukekura Park, New Plymouth. Image: Su Leslie 2019

With all that seems wrong in the world, I need to hold on to what is good, like a week in New Plymouth visiting gardens — beautiful and productive — and meeting people committed to living simpler, better lives. Each evening while I was there, I walked through the city’s stunning Pukekura Park.

December 2019

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Image: Su Leslie 2019

A no-brainer really. My funny, kind and darling son.

And now a thank you …

to everyone who visits this blog, and especially those who take the time to share their thoughts and ideas and so often, kindness. I want you to know how much I appreciate your support and the community we have created here.

Wishing you all a happy new year.

 

 

Abstract

dewdrop bokeh Water on a magnolia leaf. Image: Su Leslie 2018

“To abstract is to draw out the essence of a matter.” – Ben Shahn

The more photographs I make, the more I realise that I’ll never capture everything in a scene. And the more I try, the busier and more confused my images become.

I’m learning to focus my brain as well as my lens; to make judgements about what is important to me; what I want my image to say. Sometimes that means taking an image into the realms of abstraction.

img_6015 A starfish in the tide. Image: Su Leslie 2018

“The less there is to look at, the more important it is that we look at it closely and carefully.” ― Kirk Varnedoe

img_6013 Cactus leaves. Image: Su Leslie 2018
DSC09393 The storm. Image: Su Leslie 2013

“What does that represent? There was never any question in plastic art, in poetry, in music, of representing anything. It is a matter of making something beautiful, moving, or dramatic – this is by no means the same thing.” – Fernand Leger

img_6014 Tulips. Image: Su Leslie 2019

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge | abstract

Seeing double

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“There are always two people in every picture: the photographer and the viewer.” – Ansel Adams.  Image: Su Leslie 2019

Some things feel like they should always come in twos — like biscuits, and scoops of ice-cream. Though with (regular) hindsight, maybe having two eyes but only one stomach is a problem.

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Apparently, one of the earliest versions of  the saying “two’s company, three’s a crowd” dates back to 1678. John Ray wrote in his collection English Proverbs “One’s too few, three too many.”

One becomes two: shadows and reflections.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge | seeing double

Layers upon layers

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Evening light, Whanganui River estuary. Image; Su Leslie 2019

This week’s Lens-Artists Photo Challenge asks for interpretations of the word layered.

Do I approach it literally with the layers of a macaron or a cafe breakfast?

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Salted caramel macaron. Not only layering of the biscuits with buttercream, but layers within the baking itself. Image: Su Leslie 2019

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Hash-browns, mushrooms, eggs; layered to look good on the plate and distribute those delicious runny yolks throughout the dish. Image: Su Leslie 2019

Or stacked container layers, gone awry in high winds?

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Containers, Wellington Harbour. High winds have wrecked havoc with the carefully constructed layers. Image: Su Leslie 2017

More broken layers?

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Reflections in the contoured glass exterior of the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery/Len Lye Centre, New Plymouth, NZ. Image: Su Leslie 2017

Or maybe layers in art?

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Detail, ‘Wave 2’ sculpture by Annette Thas. A tidal wave of discarded Barbie dolls installed at Tamarama Beach as part of Sculpture by the Sea, Bondi 2015. Image: Su Leslie

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Layer after layer of discarded Barbie dolls form a wave shape. Layers of plastic and layers of meaning. Image: Su Leslie 2015

And then there are layers created by the two-dimensional nature of photography; compressing landscapes into bands of colour and texture.

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Landscape, Canterbury, NZ. Image: Su Leslie 2019

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Tutukaka, Northland, NZ. Image: Su Leslie 2019

Not to mention layered images; double-exposures, super-impositions.

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Double-exposures; a newly discovered camera setting. Su Leslie 2019

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Photo-montage. Su Leslie 2019

Obviously, I couldn’t decide which to focus on.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge | layered