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Showing posts from January, 2019


A couple of weeks back I set myself the task of photographing a bumblebee in flight. This was not because I was particularly interested in bumblebees, but because the task was difficult. Bumblebees move quickly and erratically, they are hairy and thus have ill defined edges, they are striped which makes them contrasty and thus photographically challenging and their faces have black features on a black background, ditto. Good photography is about technique more than it is about gear, and I wanted to improve my technique. Especially, I wanted to try my hand at macrophotography, which I haven't done much of before. So, I've spent a lot of time watching bumblebees through my viewfinder. I generally take a few shots, maybe 100 or so. Then I look at them on the camera's LCD screen and delete those with obvious and fatal flaws (bad focus and motion blur mostly)which is usually about 30% of them. Next I load them onto my computer and give them a second, more critical cull, del

Drone Fly

This might look like a bee happily getting its afternoon fix of daisy nectar, but it's not. It's a big, fat, slow moving fly which lives mostly on nectar and has a penchant for hovering around the flowers which provide its favourite tipple. It would make a tasty little smackerel for a passing bird, except that, to the bird, it looks a lot like a sting wielding bee. It survives, in other words, by pretending to be something it is not, which, is something most of us do, at least some of the time. You can tell it's not a bee because it lacks a bee's antennae - those large, angular protrusions on a bee's head which the bee uses for communicating with other bees. And the fact that it is missing the organs of communication is sort of symbolic, when you think about it. You can't be in relationship to someone you're lying to. Not a real relationship, anyway. Many of us have doubts about sharing the self we know ourselves to be. Sometimes, I guess, we have ver

Everything is Waiting For You

I woke this morning in the early hours thinking of this poem by David Whyte. And also of the words of Jesus about how the Kingdom of God lies close to hand. About how everything we spend so much energy pursuing is already ours and only requires us to pause, and recognize, and be grateful. Everything Is Waiting For You Your great mistake is to act the drama as if you were alone. As if life were a progressive and cunning crime with no witness to the tiny hidden transgressions. To feel abandoned is to deny the intimacy of your surroundings. Surely, even you, at times, have felt the grand array; the swelling presence, and the chorus, crowding out your solo voice You must note the way the soap dish enables you, or the window latch grants you freedom. Alertness is the hidden discipline of familiarity. The stairs are your mentor of things to come, the doors have always been there to frighten you and invite you, and the tiny speaker in the phone is your dream-ladder to


Every novel is an autobiography. Every painting is a self portrait. So is every photograph. It’s a record of what the artist deems worthy of notice. It’s a token of the narrative the artist is using to make sense of the world, and an attempt to tell that story to whoever will take the time to look. Sometimes the self portrayal is a little more self conscious, as when the record of my ephemeral passing is caught in the (only slightly) less ephemeral surface of an airflow trailer.  My camera comes with me most places now, even on an overnight trip to this little town to talk to the staff of the 3 Anglican Schools here, about how they might be more authentically and missionally part of the Anglican Church. It’s an astonishing piece of technology. The camera I mean, though I suppose the Anglican Church also. It is powerfully adept. And woefully lacking. But it’s shortcomings force me to confront the transience of all things. Things zoom past but even what seems solid is also ma

Railway Station

 The Dunedin Railway Station was built when Dunedin was the largest and wealthiest city in the country. The gold in them thar hills didn't stay in the pockets of the miners for very long, but found its way instead into the bank accounts of the clothiers, iron mongers and grocers of Dunedin, who all paid their taxes and demanded that their council make a city fit for them to live in. So, to celebrate the cutting edge technology of the day, the burghers built a massive, Gothic revival station with mosaic floors and stained glass and towers. It was a cathedral to the god Technology, and the envy of the nation. Unfortunately the steam trains stopped running decades ago, not all that long, actually, after the cash supply from the goldfields dwindled. Nowadays there is no real rail service from Dunedin to anywhere, excepting a tourist train taking people inland on a day trip to ooh and aah at the Taieri Gorge. The place is still well peopled though. Today they don't arrive at

In the Garden Today

We've been away for a few days. It's time to have a look at what's been happening, or not, in our absence. The dahlias are out.  And so are the hydrangeas .   The kids gave us a garden seat for Christmas, so I assembled it. It has a plaque on it, with a couple of lines from David Whyte's The House of Belonging. this is where I want to love all the things it has taken me so long to learn to love.    


So I retired, and although I have an interesting  part time job, my life stopped being shaped by the agendas of other people. All the stuff that kept me so busy for so many years was suddenly over. I suppose it could have been an unnerving experience, but it wasn't. I found my life not so much shapeless, as reshaped. My family gives life much of its new form, but as the old life wafted down into nothingness, like a hot air balloon after someone turns the gas off, I've found two things whose importance, for how I now am in the world, grows by the day. One of these is meditation, with all it's attendant disciplines and theories and theologies. The other is taking photographs. Prayer and photography. Mostly these are aspects of the same thing. Over the years I think I've developed a reasonable "eye". I know a good composition when I see one, just don't ask me to define it for you. I have a good understanding of photographic principles and equipment and

Country Garage

Just South of Ashburton there is a dog leg turn in State Highway 1, where the road passes through Hinds. Right on the corner is a garage, which has a yard full of knackered old British cars behind it, and always a few rusting hulks out the front where folks can see them. At the moment, there's a Triumph Mayflower, which used to be known as the panelbeater's nightmare because its arrogantly presumptuous coachlines made it difficult to repair and its dreadful handling made it likely to need  it. There's a Hillman Minx, like the one my father once owned, and Standard Vanguard, like the one in which I sat my driver's license. They were appalling cars, all of them: slow, cumbersome, ugly little things, but they were all that were available to us because of the special trading relationship we had with Britain. We bought British, even though they were ridiculously expensive and hideously iunreliable. American and European cars were even more expensive, and cheap