The Changing Seasons, November 2020

Raglan Harbour, Waikato, NZ. Image: Su Leslie 2020

I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by. — Douglas Adams

You know when you have a great idea, and it seems quite straightforward.

So you invest a bit of time. Then it starts to get complicated, and there’s a deadline.

But damn, it’s a great idea and you’re not going to be beaten or back down.

Or maybe that’s just me.

Anyway, the idea was simple. With Covid and whatnot, it’s been a very virtual year, and I thought it would be nice to post people actual Christmas cards (with hand-written messages), instead of just sending emails or texts, or trying to remember my FaceBook password.

And because I’m quite arty, I thought I’d make the Christmas cards.

But since I didn’t fancy doing 20 or so watercolours, and my lino-cuts were a fail last year, I thought I’d take some nice photos and get them printed onto cards.

And then, because I love food, I thought the photos should be of Christmas goodies. Which of course I’d have to bake.

You see where I’m going with this?

I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I intended to be. — Douglas Adams

Plan B 1/2 — the baking left a bit to be desired. Image: Su Leslie 2020

Suffice to say, I’ve learned a lot about cookie-making, royal icing and bokeh.

But. I barely managed to post my overseas cards before the van arrived to empty the box on the last day NZ Post claims they will deliver them by Christmas (and no, I’m not holding my breath).

And. I am rather pleased with them.

I would show you, but as I don’t know your postal addresses, I’ll almost certainly end up using the images here anyway, by way of a Merry Christmas to you all.

So from where I’m sitting now, my November has been one long baking, icing and photographic session.

But the month started with a short trip to the Waikato, during which I did no baking or icing and very little food photography, unless you count shots of food trucks at Gourmet in the Gardens, at Hamilton Gardens.

This is a weekly event, run every Sunday night over summer, and it was fabulous. The Rhododendron Lawn becomes a vast picnic area, ringed by food trucks serving some really nice food.

I chatted to one of the organisers and was really impressed by how carefully thought-out the whole event is. They even bring in a caravan containing a couple of dishwashers, so that all of the cutlery and crockery can be reused. Apparently the forks and knives came from cleaning out practically every thrift shop in Hamilton.

We spent the night in Hamilton, and drove home via Raglan (only a short detour), which became a longer detour as we explored the Te Akau area on the north side of Raglan Harbour.

One road in, one road out. Thirty or so kilometres of gravel road through some really pretty countryside, and a wharf at the end with some very cool rock formations.

I don’t know if our trip counts as supporting the local tourist industry, but it did confirm that we probably won’t be buying land at Te Akau — unless we also bought a boat that would get us across the harbour to Raglan (about a 10 minute trip).

That’s unlikely, as neither T nor I are natural sailors.

Rock formations, Te Akau Wharf, Waikato. In the background, Raglan. Ten minutes by boat; 90 minutes by road. Image; Su Leslie 2020

The Changing Seasons, contributor’s guidelines

In the last couple of Changing Seasons posts, I’ve talked about the guidelines for this project and sought feedback on them.

Based on this, and my own thoughts I’m suggesting the following — only slightly amended from the Cardinal’s original — guidelines.

The Changing Seasons is a monthly blogging 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.

Or you might like to share a recipe or instructions for something you’ve made — or just show us what you’ve done.

Post length and photo numbers

There are no fixed rules around this; just a request that you respect your readers’ time and engagement.

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 already posted an image on your blog, it’s probably not a good idea to use it again — unless it really helps to tell your story. 

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.


Little Pieces of Me

Lani at Life, the Universe and Lani

Tish at Writer on the Edge

Marilyn at Serendipity, Seeking Intelligent Life on Earth

Tracy at Reflections of an Untidy Mind


Natalie the Explorer

Ju-Lyn from All Things Bright and Beautiful

Pauline from Living in Paradise

Brian at Bushboy’s World

Sarah at Art Expedition

Negative space

Image: Su Leslie 2019

Is negative space the space you don’t like, or the space that is not there? And if it’s not there how can you tell? — Emma Bull

I read somewhere that negative space exists to give the eye a place to rest. Implicit in that of course, is that there is something to rest from.

I guess that’s what distinguishes negative space from space which is merely empty.

Understanding that distinction — and becoming comfortable with it — is not easy for many of us. We fill the frame, fill the page, fill our stomachs, our homes and our time (and our children’s time).

And then, at some point, we talk about simplifying, editing, down-sizing, stepping back. We are looking for the negative space in which to make sense of life.

Crikey, I hear you say, that’s a bit philosophical for a photo challenge.

Ah, but in the company of many thoughtful photographers (indeed lens artists), I think musing on the philosophies that inform our work has its place.

I play a lot with negative space in my photos.

It has been a slow and not always conscious process, though  I do remember the first time I was aware of trying to take something out of an image, rather than trying to fit it in!

Looking though my archive, I notice that many of my images have quite high contrast between positive and negative spaces.

There are some exceptions.

Lens-Artist Photo Challenge | negative space

Filling the frame

I recently saw a photo which consisted of a square of pale pink wall. On the very far right of the image, was a rectangle of black, and tiny cluster of brighter pink flowers.

I loved it! The simplicity and minimalism of the shot is so totally outside my photographic aesthetic or vocabulary.

Seeing Patti’s choice for this week’s Lens-Artists Photo Challenge —  Filling the Frame made me realise how much I do exactly that. I try to minimise distraction and guide viewers to see the my subject more clearly by presenting it front and (generally off-) centre.

Yet the ‘pink-wall’ image achieved exactly the same goal, focusing my attention not by foregrounding the flowers, but by filling the frame with “white space.”

Expect some attempts at this from me soon.

2018 through my lens

In the final Lens-Artists photo challenge for 2018, Ann-Christine asks us to review our photos of the past year and share some favourites.

There are threads that run through all my photography: preferred subjects, lenses, and styles of composition. Food, flowers, beaches and art are always well-represented in the archive.


The first plums harvested from our tree. Image: Su Leslie 2018

My enjoyment of food photography is a natural extension of my passion for food. What I like best about the shot above is that it was my first (and only) “take.” I don’t have a dedicated studio, and have to construct a set-up for every shoot. Because I’ve done the close-up-on-black-background style of photography before, I was able to set this up really quickly and got the shot I wanted first time.

What’s not to love about dramatic landscapes?

Manukau Heads, from Huia. Auckland, New Zealand. Su Leslie 2018

Manukau Heads, from Huia. Auckland, New Zealand. Su Leslie 2018


Old garage, Whangaehu, Whanganui. Image: Su Leslie 2018


Morning walk, Greenhithe. Image: Su Leslie 2018

Or beautiful flowers?

I like the shots below because they not only remind me of a great visit to Sydney to indulge in my passion for art, but about being in the right place at the right time.

This year, my interest in art has taken a new direction with an on-going commission to photograph the life of a friend’s art studio. Because it’s both a working and teaching space, I have suddenly found myself learning to take portraits — not only of a dear friend but also the many students she teaches, and a couple of events the studio has hosted.

I’ve chosen the portraits above, not because I think they are necessarily great photos, but because they represent moments in women’s lives that I was privileged to be able to share.

My favourite photograph of 2018 is another portrait.


The Big T, with whom I’ve shared my life for 32 years, doesn’t generally like being photographed, so allowing me to point my camera at him is an act of generosity, if not love. For which I am really grateful.

t portrait nov 2018

The Big T. Image: Su Leslie 2018

Wishing you all a very happy and creative year ahead.

Daily Post Photo Challenge: not quite to scale

Intrepid explorer: BMW Isetta tackles the rugged terrain of the front yard. Photo: Su Leslie, 2015

Intrepid explorer: BMW Isetta tackles the rugged terrain of the front yard. Photo: Su Leslie, 2015

Who'd have thought that such a small car could goo off-road? Photo: Su Leslie, 2015.

Who’d have thought that such a small car could go off-road? Photo: Su Leslie, 2015.

photo 2

Maybe when it grows up it can have big tyres too? Photo: Su Leslie, 2015.

Toys are a fun way to play with scale. Matchbox cars get lost in the shrubbery and come to grief in the rock garden. Meanwhile in the kitchen … a supermarket chain’s check-out giveaways get dwarfed by the breakfast bowl and spoon.

Honey I shrunk the cereal ... and the milk. Photo: Su Leslie, 2015.

Honey I shrunk the cereal … and the milk. Photo: Su Leslie, 2015.

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Scale.”

Six word Saturday: if I could show you depression …

Feeling a bit like a swing in a storm; buffeted, out of control and ultimately pointless. Photo: Su Leslie, 2014

Feeling a bit like a swing in a storm; out of control and ultimately pointless. Photo: Su Leslie, 2014

The black cloud has been hovering for a while and none of my usual fixes are working. I guess I’ll just be riding this one out.

Luckily, other bloggers have much more cheerful Six Word Saturdays to share. Here are some that I liked:

Six Word Saturday



Travel Theme: fragrant #2


The Big T had to go overseas on business so it was a good time to check the perfume bottles in case I need to place an order for duty free.

You can find out more about Ailsa’s Travel Theme at Where’s my backpack. And here are some other posts I enjoyed:

11-23-13 Travel Theme: Fragrant

Travel Theme: Fragrant

Weekly Travel Theme : Fragrant !

Weekly Photo Challenge: eerie

What characteristics does an image need to be described as "eerie"?

What characteristics does an image need to be described as “eerie”?

ee·rie or ee·ry

adj. ee·ri·er, ee·ri·est

1     a. Inspiring inexplicable fear, dread, or uneasiness; strange and frightening.

       b. Suggestive of the supernatural; mysterious. See Synonyms at weird.
2.    Scots Frightened or intimidated by superstition.
Source: The Free Dictionary (

How does an image denote “eerie.”

Is it subject? Composition? Light? Focus? Colour palatte? Or – as is likely – some combination of all of the above.

It was with with some pessimism that I went through my photo archive looking for an image for this week’s Daily Post photo challenge. The shot illustrating the post was awesome – Merilee Mitchell‘s “Ghost Child”  – for me this photograph absolutely exemplifies the word “eerie.”

In the archive I found shots of graveyards and old churches and of isolated places taken at the beginning and end of the day; many, I thought could be called moody. I also found quite a few of myself reflected in objects I was photographing – a poster in an art gallery, a bus shelter and a jar of pickled onions. They had an ethereal quality, but were they eeerie? In the case of the pickled onion shot I think the word is “creepy.”

What characteristics does an image need to be described as "eerie"?

What characteristics does an image need to be described as “eerie”?

I find isolated places a bit sinister anyway, so those were the shots I gravitated towards. An abandoned church with the door partially ajar ticked quite a few of my “eerie” boxes for subject and composition, but my original photo wasn’t particularly eerie.

Rendering it in black and white helped, but I think this shot, filtered and with the focus changed, does “eerie” much better.

Photo editing is quite new to me; apart from a few brightness and colour adjustments, it’s something I’ve only really begun exploring as a “fun” thing on my iPad. But it seemed to me that if composition and subject matter weren’t enough to make my photographs eerie, then perhaps I could use some basic editing tools to create the mood I wanted. In particular I found a filter in Aviary Ultimate Photo Editor that gives a violet-y colour which seems to denote eerie quite nicely. The other thing I’ve done is play with the focus to blur the edges of the photos.

Here are the results. I’m interested in what you think.

Churchyard, Kirkmichael, Perthshire, Scotland. Su Leslie 2013

Churchyard, Kirkmichael, Perthshire, Scotland. Su Leslie 2013

Churchyard, Kirkmichael, Perthshire, Scotland. Su Leslie 2013.

Churchyard, Kirkmichael, Perthshire, Scotland. Su Leslie 2013.

After using the same filter on a whole series of photos, I decided to go back and re-edit without it; playing instead only with saturation and focus. The shot above benefited most from this.

Perhaps it's just the subject matter here, but after Dr Who's Stone Angels, cemeteries will never be the same for me.

Bayswater Cemetery, Auckland, New Zealand. Su Leslie 2013. Perhaps it’s just the subject matter here, but after Dr Who’s Stone Angels, cemeteries will never be the same for me.

What characteristics does an image need to be described as "eerie"?

The Stone Bridge, Tyringham, Buckinghamshire, England. Su Leslie 2013. The question of what might be on the other side plays with my sense of unease.

Wintergarden, Auckland War Memorial Museum. Su Leslie 2012. I often dream of walking down empty corridors or arcades and there is always a sense of foreboding and unease.

A dream-like colour palette and anxiety about what is around the corner; eerie? Or just disturbing?

A back wynd, Falkirk, Fife, Scotland. Su Leslie 2013. A dream-like colour palette and anxiety about what is around the corner. Eerie? Or just disturbing?

What do you think makes an image eerie? Join the challenge by clicking the link here, or enjoy some of the posts I found captured the theme well:

Weekly Photo Challenge: Eerie

Weekly Photo Challenge: Eerie

Weekly Photo Challenge: Eerie