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We know that Christmas is almost upon us when our Pohutukawa tree starts to flower.  It almost always times it so that it is covered with scarlet blooms by Christmas Day.   This year the tree looks like it will have a great display.

Our pohutukawa tree, 10 Dec 2009
Our pohutukawa tree, 10 Dec 2009

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The other day we drove over to our favourite vineyard,  Neudorf at Upper Moutere, to pick up our mailing list order in person.  The place was packed, we hadn’t realised that a concert was scheduled for that afternoon.  Judy Finn, one of the owners, said ‘hi’ as she bustled in and out of the winery shop and we had a brief chat with her husband Tim (no relation to NZ’s famous musician) as we were carrying the wine back to our car.  The encounters were yet another reminder of just how nice it is to be back home in Nelson, after the anonymity of a big city. It was great to see that the Finns hadn’t changed a bit.  They still have a wonderful knack of making you feel that you are doing them a big favour by visiting their vineyard. Their modesty is despite their ongoing successes!  For example:…

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I miss my local camera store!

For most of the time we spent in Christchurch, from late 2005 through to a year ago, we lived in a suburb called Merivale, only 400 metres or so from New Zealand’s best camera store.

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Here’s a technique for close-up photography which could save you hundreds of dollars. It’s possible to get results as good as a ring flash using only a sheet of white paper!

example of the 'ring flash'
example taken with the paper 'ring flash'

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When I finally plucked up courage to photograph the riders rather than the track action at the Ronnie Moore Speedway Park, I got some great images. I used the “boredom” technique: if you hang around long enough eventually people forget that you are there.  Here’s one example, of Anthony’s dad working on his son’s machine. So the gap remains.

In a former life, I had a lot to do with Greenshell mussels.  There’s a large export industry based upon farming these shellfish, which are found only in New Zealand. Not only do they taste good, but they are also good for your health.  (I managed to get off anti-inflammatory drugs for about seven years by including Greenshell mussels in my regular diet, but that’s another story.)

But this multimillion dollar industry recruits its juvenile mussels in a very strange way.

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I spent last Sunday on the water off Kaikoura. It was a fishing trip with some old friends (the Serious Fishing Club) and some new ones.Salvin's Albatross 0240

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The other night the usual Wednesday night yacht racing coincided with a big SW wind. I fancied my chances of catching some good action shots, so took up a position where I had a good view, about 100m along the road from our house. Well I wasn’t disappointed. Here is one of the shots, but there was much more to come:

20091125-_ACT0084

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This weekend I’m off on a fishing trip to Kaikoura.   The charter boat provides all fishing gear, so I’ll just be loaded up with my photographic gear.  On my last trip, I was trying out a new lens, a 300mm telephoto.  It was incredibly difficult, the sea was lumpy, the autofocus kept latching onto people’s fishing rods rather than the birdlife, so most of my pics were no good. But I got lucky.  I had the camera to my eye when I noticed a bird swooping in towards us.  He did only one quick pass as I struggled to track him and get off a series of quick shots.  Only afterwards when I studied the images did I realise just what I had captured.  It was a Wandering Albatross, one of the very largest!  Adults have a wingspan approaching 4 metres, with a body length of  more than a metre. …

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I bought a local paper when I travelled to Christchurch the other day.   I was struck by the content of the front page that day: almost 2/3 was taken up with two major stories. One was about a nine-year-old girls’s disappointment, the other about Cadbury changing the recipe for one of their sweets!

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