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Showing posts from September, 2019


The Dunedin railway station is ridiculously pretty. It was built when cash from the gold rushes flowed freely through the city and the council wanted to make a statement about what a grand and important little town we were. So, no expense was spared to cover it in little towers and fill it up with mosaics and carved wood. It's years since it was an actual transport hub. Freight trains pass it, and tourists use it to board the Taieri Gorge railway, but other than that it's mostly just something to look at. This morning, early, before the tourists arrived, I went to look at it. I took my camera and one lens: a wide angle. I have a half dozen lenses that I have gathered up over the years to fit on the front of my Nikon camera. They cover a range of focal lengths from 16mm (extreme wide angle) to 600mm (extreme telephoto) and I pick one or two of them to take with me depending on what I think I might be taking pictures of. A wide angle lens is all  about inclusion: lots of

Seeing the Light

I have it on good authority that these flowers are primulas. They're actually very small. I was taken with their audacious colors.  Two young fish are swimming happily along when they pass an old fish. "Good morning," says the old fish, "lovely water today, isn't it?" Once the old fish was well out of earshot one young fish turns to the other and asks, "what the heck is water?"  **** There's a change which happens to every photographer at some stage. They begin to see light. Before that they see objects - people or hills or bees or birds -that are potential subject matter, and of course they still do that, but there is something else as well. They see the light: its direction and strength; its colour; whether it is direct or reflected or refracted or absorbed; the way it takes on the characteristics of whatever it has bounced off. They notice that when hitting film or a photographic sensor, reflected light  behaves differently than di

The Well of the Living One who Sees Me

Here is the sermon I preached yesterday, in St. Paul's Cathedral on the 150th anniversary of the Diocese of Dunedin. Of course this is just the sound. It misses so much: the assembled choirs; the large church completely full of people with a high degree of interconnection; the colour of the glass and the soar and sweep of limestone; the children coming and going; the clear strong voices of the young people from Selwyn and St. Hilda's;  the inspired liturgical leadership of Bishop Steve. For me, preaching is more than simply reading an essay to the people. It is a connection in which all the elements mentioned and more besides combine in an act of communication. So an audio recording can give the content but not the completeness of the sermon. You had to be there. But all that aside, here's what I had to say. If audio features do not show, it is because your browser does not support them


Many of you will have seen this picture before. I took it a couple of days ago, and it, or one very like it, is on my Facebook page or on one or two other places online. People have told me it makes St. Clair look quite exotic, fair enough, because it is, if you don't live there, and several have asked if I have modified it. Well, yes, of course I have modified it. I modified it the moment I pressed the shutter button, but that's not the point. There's a perception out there that edited photos are kind of cheating; that the "best" pictures are the natural ones, unaltered from the images that pop out of the camera. Well... let's think about that for a bit. I stand on a cold Spring evening, just after dusk. What I am in the midst of is a multi sensory, 3-D experience, which, for reasons you'd probably best ask my counselor about, I want to share. So I get out my camera which is about as capable a digital camera as you can buy without taking out a mo


On St Clair beach is a group of old pilings. When I first bought a decent (for the time) digital camera I photographed them and made a picture I was happy with. Way back then,  I took the picture at dusk, used a tripod, set the lens to a narrow aperture to get as much depth of field as possible, and used a slow shutter speed (around 20 seconds) to smooth out the water.  I've visited the pilings many times, and made much the same shot. Last night I realised that the tide and the light were appropriate for yet another iteration, and took the picture above. Same settings, though the old wooden logs have aged a bit. We revisit our past. It's not now as we imagined it. Things that seemed so strong and straight are succumbing to the tides of the universe, as everything does.  The piles have suffered the indignities of all that is constant in their environment. They are still lovely in their decline, though, and make their own statement about impermanence and the movement we al