Sunday, August 29, 2010

A new look at New Zealand's Bendigo

For the last couple of weeks I've been going through some challenging yoga sessions and so this weekend feeling quite tired I opted to stay at home, do some work, and like last Sunday head out pre dawn to make some landscape photos.

First light found me at the historic Bendigo gold mining area, just 20 mins. from home, on the lower Dunstan Mountains. Although I go there often, today I was lucky to find some new areas to fossic amongst...

I presume it got it's name from it's Australian counterpart, but it was actually made up of two towns at least: Welshtown and the lower altitude Logantown. We'd had very heavy rain overnight and I've never seen this area, known as the driest in New Zealand, so wet...

It's not good for the normally dry walls to get this damp. Without a roof and eves they would not last long in a less dry climate...

The Bendigo gold mining area is just riddled with mine shafts. Some are so deep it takes ages to hear a dropped stone land at the bottom. However some are more horizontal, or follow a natural feature like this very deep crack which has been throughly exploited mining wise, and now overgrown...

I wonder what this fancy building, with the steps beyond, was for? It overlooks the Matilda stamping battery site [long gone, but the foundations and stonework to support these huge structures is still there]...bendigo-5.jpg

A tipping dray at Logantown - I suspect it's a relic of more recent farming days, than left over from the 1860s...

This small flat area was the site of Logantown, which was developed in 1869.

It was simply an irregular line of corrugated iron buildings, with seven hotels, four general stores, two butchers, a bakery, a drapery and a Temperance restaurant. Most of these businesses were gone by 1872

The mine manager's house at Logantown...

This little cottage, still lived in, is lower down near the Cromwell/Tarras road - history of a later flavour really. Today it's all about grapes..

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Sunday, August 22, 2010

A lot like fly fishing

This weekend my good friend Roger is in town. Both being fiendishly keen on making photos [usually landscape], we always spend sometime looking at the recent additions to our personal photo libraries, discuss possibilities/creativity and get out there at dawn or dusk to be there [f8 at 250th of a sec. and be there, as they say, are the chief ingredients to making images].

One of the local farmlets on the way to Glendhu Bay has a new addition to their entrance, but I'm not sure of the significance of the clay man or the cross, but I like the setting, especially having Roys Peak as a backdrop...

I'm often struck how much it's like fly fishing: both pursuits encourage quiet travel and awareness of all around us.

Composition and light in particular in photography - I love the browny orange in this one...

The strongest motivator for us humans is intermittent reinforcement, and both the making of photos, and a good fish occasionally meet the criteria.

Every now and then we're truly in the right place at the right time [at least light wise - my feet were getting wet]...

I have found that what works for myself is to say "right I've got the light, now where is the subject?"

I've sort of used the reverse concept here though - I've always been fascinated by this messy example of farming and it's right beside the road...glendhu-4.jpg

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Sunday, August 15, 2010

A little bit of an adventure many years ago

I've just been exploring yet another function of a new scanner I bought awhile back - this time doing colour negatives. I've done a few hundred old colour slides, but the negs. take a bit more time, as for starters they're not so easy to eye-ball and identify what they're of.

Anyway I was quite excited to find the negs. below. They are of what was a very complex Wanaka Search and Rescue mission under the West face of Mt Aspiring, probably about 1989. It's a little topical right now too, as in the mountains we're getting a few avalanche events due to the new snowfalls and changes in the weather pattern from settled to fronts coming through regularly.

We needed to get many people up there to find the bodies of an unfortunate couple who fell off the mountain, so the Air Force got involved. Operating one of these 4.5 ton machines at altitude involves great skill, and here one of our team provides a visual point of reference. Although it appears the machine has landed it's actually still being flown. Settling that much weight down can cause many problems if the skids sink in too far...

Subsequent snowfalls and avalanches since the accident gave us cause to be very careful. We were also aware they may have buried the bodies to quite a depth...

It was quite a saga: a local mountaineer was up there doing his own solo ski tour, and simply came across the two victims, a couple, who had fallen, roped together, off the Nor West Ridge, from just above the The Ramp. To his credit in a very unsettling situation to be alone in, he managed to descend the complex French Ridge route safely to raise the alarm. Over the next few days three of us had many spooky trips in cloud to the site, in between fronts, in a Hughes 500, looking for them, however they were buried by snowfall after the first front went through. So when the weather allowed about 10 days later, we actioned a typical avalanche rescue plan - a probe line. After a few hours of what has to be a very pedantic grid pattern search we succeeded and they were found just a little way away from all the debris in the pictures. Mostly this was due to the initial "discoverer" being able to identify the area. All-in-all it was hard on him, from go to whoa!

We tried a search dog first, but Rosella had never trained on dead person smells, but she tried her best for an hour, while we kept warm readying the area for the doz. or so people yet to arrive...

Job over I made one last photo before boarding - very glad to be out of there where so much was hanging above us, and an aircraft operating on the very edge in every way [rotor noise/ air displacement is thought to be able to trigger avalanches too], never giving riding with the body bags a second thought!...

We had to refuel down in the valley - I still recall how sweet the greens and browns were, and the smell of living - reminding me there is so much to be grateful for! These machines use a 40 gal. drum worth every half hour, and the tanks had to be near empty up on the mountain working at about 8000 ft., to keep the weight down...

There were many fine decisions made on this day by all concerned - fine in every sense of the word!

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Sunday, August 8, 2010

A quiet couple of weeks

Been getting back to normal here after a week now off antibiotics. Certainly feeling better too - guess I had the bugs in my gum for ages since a dental episode several months ago, and it was running me down.

Work has been busy, so I've stayed close to the fire except for a trip to Queenstown, and tonight gathering some driftwood from a remote part of the lake shore at Hawea.

I really enjoy doing this most winters to augment my firewood supplies. And it takes no time to dry it out. All sorts of woods too, and they remind of the beautiful places they come from, that I've been fortunate to spend weeks in...

Exploring low light on The Crown Terrace, looking down at the Wakatipu basin...
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