Monday, December 3, 2007

Skeletal remains for ewe...

I cannot resist a pun!!!
Spotted on a hillside overlooking Christchurch, this poor old ewe expired some time ago. I processed this shot in a Dragan style - I am such a fan!!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Skies in the evening...

Aaaaahhh! the end of a long, hot day - and the sky is glowing. Got to be a wonderful thing...
Don't forget my blog for health professionals!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

A new take on a classic kiwi image

Aaaaahhh! the koru, symbol of growth - draganised. Andriez Dragan developed this particular style of photography for portraits - but wow, it makes a stunning impact on certain other images, especially where a gritty or textured surface needs to be emphasised to evoke a mood.

If you're visiting here - take a minute to visit my HealthSkills blog href=" - a place for health professionals to find resources and commentary on therapies to help people with chronic pain (and other chronic illnesses) live life well.

Monday, November 5, 2007


Hey! Dandelions are wonderful - not particularly if you like a weed-free lawn, but there is something about their cheerful proliferation, that yellow starburst, and the wonderful fluffy seedhead. Just gorgeous, and one of the things that remains of childhood wonder years and years after...!

Coming soon: a new blog for health care providers - Healthskills for healthy living! Details soon...

Wednesday, October 10, 2007


Some things need no further description...

Sunday, September 30, 2007


Ahhh! She's beautiful...
I had to share this shot of my lovely daughter, she's gorgeous!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Kiwi architecture

Now something kiwi's are not known for is their architecture. Being pragmatists (and probably calvinists) early settlers built basic boxes. Made of timber usually, because it was portable, probably local, and relatively easy to manufacture.
Four walls, a roof. Possibly one or two windows. A door.
Not much more!
And definitely no insulation, central heating, not much in the way of creature comforts, not even built towards the sun!

But there is something quintessential about the kiwi building. It works. And it ages well - even decades after it was first built!

This example apparently was used as committee rooms for the local Roading Board, which is why it survived when others didn't. When going inside, the building consists of two rooms, one with an old coal or wood range, two windows and nothing much else. The other room had one window - and nothing else.

From the outside, someone had cared enough to plant a tree - and now it seems it's a photographer's playground. Wonderful light, textures, colours - and a view that can't be beaten!!

This is located on the road towards Lake Coleridge, Canterbury.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Seeing when you look

It's been said so often that it's probably a truism that once a person has a camera, all of a sudden everything they see is a photograph. With the lack of limits of a digital camera it's oh so easy to snap away without having to spend time on an image.
It was so different when 24 little exposures was all that was available - I can get 250 something on my 2GB card!! And some of them are even worth keeping! I don't know, but I think my 'hit rate' is much better with digital, or is it that I've learned to take risks and be creative?

I'm not sure of the process that happens when I've got my camera out, but something switches on and suddenly what I am looking at becomes something else. All colours and angles and textures...
I love this process - the little motifs, the scenes, that moment, that story, NOW that that's zen...

And for me it doesn't stop then either - going back home, downloading (like Christmas goodies!), then spending time pondering and considering and playing with that image to bring out what it can say. Often the end image says something completely different from what it communicated the moment I released the shutter.
The time spent doing this is totally meditative for me - no words, no rules, just appreciating tone, colour, texture and form.
That's seeing when you look.

Monday, September 10, 2007

old things

I love the old kiwi farming buildings... here is a shot of an old brick woolshed, still partially in use, but long past its heyday. Gorgeous old building, and for NZ, quite rare, as it's not wooden but brick, and the bricks were made in the nearby township of Glentunnel or Windwhistle (sorry can't remember which one!!).

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Monday, August 27, 2007

Barbed wire

There is something about barbed wire. I'm not sure what it is, but it makes an incredible photographic subject! I love the fluid lines, and the rust and the way it's wrapped around all sorts of places in the New Zealand countryside. I'm not so keen on it in the city, it seems cruel and out of place. Even in the country it seems to be one of those things that is ubiquitous but not quite 'right'. An attempt by humans to capture or tame or entrap the natural environment - but for photographs? Stunning!

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Serenity and poise

I am not known for serenity and detachment - I think I'm one of the world's more reactive people! I like to BE in the moment and feel and express my emotions.
To touch another person with my passion -
To be fully present - involved

While I love the concept of zen and simplicity and maintaining eternal poise and serenity, I think I am more like a willow whip or bamboo or even silk, something that moves and bends and gets energised by things.

To remain detached must I think mean a loss of involvement somehow.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but even while I'm taking photographs, something of the moment must touch me - my emotions are engaged, my sense of who I am is heightened by recognising the element in that particular scene that touched something of me.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Resilience, wellness, balance and flexibility

I'm embarking on a study of people who experience persistent pain, but live 'well'. This is somewhat ironic given that I'm still working through a rehabilitation process relating to my post-concussion syndrome dating from the end of February this year!

As I ponder what defines a person who is 'well', a number of concepts keep coming up - relevant to me as well as to the people I work with each day.

What is 'resilience'? Is it the ability to withstand problems as they occur each day? Weathering the normal daily troubles without being bothered by them? Is resilience about being 'rock-like', stable, enduring despite the odds, 'keeping the faith'?
The people around me who seem 'well' don't seem all that rock-like! Instead they seem to flow along with troubles - choosing when to bend and sway, and when to hold steady, developing and growing flexibly as events happen and then pass. Is resilience then about being flexible?
Is being 'well' about the ability to choose when to balance resistance with acceptance? Is resilience about knowing that 'I' still am despite changing my goals, my choices, my actions, but holding on to my values?

I work daily with people seeking help to live despite having persistent pain. Their pain invades everything in their lives - they tell me 'I just want to have 'me' back!'

Traditional medical management has focused on reducing pain - so that 'normal' is available again. For many this works but equally many can't achieve pain relief despite the best efforts of the health care team.
Traditional pain management has focused on helping people develop coping skills - withstanding the onslaught of pain by 'resisting', 'coping', 'doing despite'. Cognitive therapy teaches people to 'challenge' their 'maladaptive' thinking.
What if their thinking reflects reality? What if their pain is unexpected? If their pain means they can't think straight? If they can no longer work in the manual work they love?

Recently 'acceptance' has become a popularised concept - meaning instead of fighting against pain, people choose to live to their important values.
This requires looking at how we go about activities differently. How can we live according to important values despite having limitations as to how much we can do at any one time?

Now this doesn't seem any different from what all of us do - none of us can do 'everything', we all have 'limitations', and we all make choices about what values and goals are important.

In a round-about way I guess I’m thinking that learning to be flexible about what we do, provided that we live in line with the ‘compass’ of our values may lead us to become resilient. Hopefully less judgmental of ourselves and others, more tolerant of ambiguity, more able to be appreciated for who we are rather than what we do.

Resilience requires flexibility and balance, a delicate dance of wellness.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007


While I'm not mad keen on the chill of winter, especially the bleak, grim grey of an overcast Canterbury day, there are parts of it that I love. I love the crisp blue of a frosty morning; I love wrapping up in layers of sensual, soft fabric; the comfort food and red wine; fires and warm beds - yes there is plenty to love!
These shots are from our trip to Cromwell, which is in the middle/lower half of the South Island, NZ. A whole countryside of contrasts! These two shots, however, display that hard, deep cold that slows the mind and body and makes me dream of indoor pursuits and tropical holidays...

Monday, July 16, 2007


The crisp blue-white of snow and sky is snap-frozen in the Mackenzie Country and Otago. This is not the land of milk and honey dreamed of by the English, but rather the grim and chilling landscape of deep and harsh Scots. Awesome for being reminded of the power of our world.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Blue sea

Mid-winter does not seem to stop some people from leaping without thought (well perhaps a little thought) deep into the ocean blue...
Despite the chill, the shortest day last week brought out a few who just could not pass up an opportunity to show (nearly) all and get in the water. I stayed safely on-shore, wrapped up warm, and shot a few photographs.

No matter what the weather the sea is a temperamental mistress, restless and merciless to those who don't respect her. I've never lived far from the sea - couldn't bear not to be able to get out to smell the brine (or the ozone), touch the sand, feel the endless variety of textures, and enjoy the changing patterns across the sand and water. Something rather peaceful despite the restlessness of the water and wind.

I don't know what it is about a beach, but even when the wind is blowing and the waves are crashing there is a peace and an insulation from 'the world' for me. Something about being involved in the energy and change that is constant and permanent...

Very zen.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

winter, water and the blues

It's winter. That means cold temperatures, wet weather, frost, and blue, blue, blue.
Fabulous for wearing lots of layers, snuggling under warm duvets, and the fire!
And for looking, but not getting into - the sea. Cold, heartless, restless mistress.
The blues - awesome music, crying from the heart...

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Pretty in Pink

Cyclamen are a wonderful Mother's Day gift...

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Colours of Autumn

Wonderful colours this year - enjoy!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007


to branch and twig
flutter in air
to dark and dampened

Thursday, May 10, 2007


Today is grey - so I've been playing with black and white (and grey) photography. Sometimes colour distracts from the essence of an image - puts a cheerful tone on a sombre story, takes away from form and substance, moves the eye from texture.
Herewith a couple of B&W shots...

Wednesday, May 2, 2007


Zen is a strange concept. For me it's more than 'simplicity' which seems to be what most europeans view it as, it's much more like being timeless/now/suspended...
Here are some photographs that feel zen-like for me.

Monday, April 30, 2007

Wonderful rocks

Here is an amazing place to visit - not for the reasons that many people go - but for an incredible sense of the timelessness of the place. It's called Kura Tawhiti in Maori, but usually called Castle Hill. I think I prefer the maori which means 'treasure from afar'!
Great place for climbers I'm told - but I think photographers probably have a ball too. I certainly did!

Monday, April 9, 2007


Some things go on forever. The roar of the sea, on and on - to lull you to sleep.
If ever you want a good night's sleep - just go to a nice beach, and stop for a while. Listen to that endless, timeless surge.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Stumbleupon and other things

I did a wonderful stumble today - can't remember exactly how I found it, but I found a really good web site on composition and other photographic basics. It's and has some really great things on it.

I'd had a crappy photo-taking day, no 'inspiration', photos looked horrid - I think what's happening is that I'm miles more critical than I used to be, so what I used to think was 'ok' I'm not satisfied with, and I'm trying to be more creative and discriminating, and of course, it's harder. So this was a refreshing place to find. Back to basics.

And as for Stumbleupon - I suppose I've forgotten to go back and visit - I have to say I love SU, it has some GREAT ways to find interesting sites, and when I'm in the mood and lacking inspiration, lots of ways to generate the spark again!

This, by the way, is my son. He needs no modification to look devilish, the cat, however, did.

Sunday, March 25, 2007


There are heaps of ways to learn new things on the 'net.

One of them is to find podcasts - and once again, there are heaps of them!

Two that I would really recommend are:

tutorials and reviews and a daily critique! brilliant stuff...

and the second:

Excellent podcasts going from raw image/camera shot through the post-processing and on to the completed product.

The thing that makes this special for me is the relationship between John Arnold and 'us' as viewers - through Flickr it's possible to have some of your pix critiqued, on occasion see your work featured on a podcast - and it's a very friendly (although with robust discussion) group.

And the other place I like to visit for thoughtful commentary and inspiration/motivation is

Howard's commentary and links to other places are thought-provoking, and inspirational, and have a great spread of topics. He posts almost daily, so always something new to read.

Having said all this, and after reading/watching - there is nothing like actually grabbing the camera and taking some shots and putting them up for discussion and critique (critique that provides solutions, not just points out the problems!). To help the reviewers it does help to give some idea of what you are trying to achieve or communicate in your shot - sometimes I forget this!

But the photo attached to this post is quite simple: humour.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007


Well, I haven't thought of myself as a patriotic sort of person, certainly not a flag-waving 'New Zild' type of girl. I've got a real pride though when I go through the internet and view things that kiwi's have done - such a range of endeavours! and whenever there is a photo, that incredible light.

It's just a shame that the current flag, pictured above waving from the flagpole at the RSA, just doesn't cut it for me. Where is that gorgeous green of the bush? Where is the amazing curve of the sea and the shoreline? Where is the authentic voice of the new New Zealand?

I have been a fan of the Hundertwasser koru flag for years - my only version is a tiny flag I hand in my office at work.

I've tried to post an image of it above - not a great image - but how much more the green koru shows how proud I am of my country!

Monday, March 19, 2007

Black and white

Reducing the impact of colour on our eyes has the effect of simplifying our world into texture. I really like this at times - such as when I look at the light on water...

This image was taken during the day but the light was weird... no green or yellow or red, just blue and grey. So it made an excellent day for black and white on water.

Limitations force creativity, limitations of colour, or equipment, or movement - whatever. We can impose our own limitations, or we can accept limitations that equipment imposes on us by instead of trying to acquire all the latest gadgets, we just make the very best images we can with the equipment we have....

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Concussion and art

For the past fortnight (just over) I have been recovering from concussion.
It's been a challenging experience for someone like me who doesn't like to slow up much, and for whom 'pacing' is a hard-learned concept.
I hit my head in a seemingly trivial accident when I tried to leap with much gusto into the 4WD. All very well except I didn't duck my head, and hit it with a thud on the doorframe. At the time I saw quite a few stars, had to sit still for a while until the shock wore off, and gingerly drove home. Laughed about it, had a headache and didn't really think much more of it. The next day I could hardly stay awake! And I thought I'd take it easy for a day or two, and then all would be well.

Well, I had one whole week off work, having wee nana naps twice a day - and sometimes sleeping fine at night, sometimes not sleeping well at all, thumping headache, yawning, irritable and couldn't concentrate on reading or doing anything much.
Then I started back to work the next week, made it for two hours - then just HAD to stop. Couldn't concentrate, needed SLEEP... Carried on like this for another week...
Had a lovely relaxing weekend away from it all, returned to work today - lasted just on three hours, and had to go home to SLEEP!


So, what has this to do with art?

Well, I write many reports each week, talk with people, analyse quite complex problems - and I am struggling with each one. I lose words, can't remember details, have trouble stringing sentences together (yes, even these...takes a long, long time to write what normally is a quick 5 minute ditty) - BUT - I can spend an hour touching up a photograph! I can spend an hour taking photographs! I can spend ages looking at photographs!


Well, my take on it is that there are different parts of my brain being active when I use the visual processing parts of my brain - and probably even more importantly, I am relaxed, there is no 'end' result, the process is more important than the outcome (although I like to have a nice outcome!)...

So despite the contradiction, I can spend ages concentrating on artistic things, when writing, talking and planning - even shopping at the supermarket - just defeat me.

I just can't do the arty things with music on...

And what else does this have to do with art?
Well, something about being lost in the moment is, to me anyway, one of the most replenishing things about creating something artistic. As if this may well be something missing from everyday life too - perhaps a concussion is one way of reinforcing to me the necessity of taking time out from 'thinking' on a regular basis, so as to just 'be' immersed in the moment of colour, shape, texture, mass - rather than words?

So, I'll be taking home this message - time out to just 'be' replenishes more than depletes, and may be helpful for me when I'm well as well as when I'm not.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

New Toy

I've just got a wacom graphic tablet! Wow, what fun. At last something that means I can paint and draw without mess on the photo's I do.

I've been a painter since I was a little girl, recently converting to acrylic and having a lot of fun with textures and embedding things and layering and so on. There is something magical about not quite knowing how the work will eventually turn out, starting from somewhere and not worrying about where it will go, ending up with something that has the essence of the original, but not necessarily the detail.

Well, Photoshop (no advertising!!) is that for me with photography. And the wacom is one of the tools that helps. Like using a pen or paintbrush, but less messy (and there is always 'undo'), the pen means I can delicately touch up areas that need a wee bit of definition, erase areas that don't work, tidy up bits that need it, and work much more intuitively than with either a touch pad (which is what I had been using) or a mouse (which I had dumped a couple of years ago).

Oh, and why wacom? Well, I shopped around, tried a few out - and for me, the wacom's size and flexibility and lack of additional and unnecessary bundled software worked for me the best. Perhaps not everyone would want these attributes, but they worked for me.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Looking up the valley

A less adulterated version of the one that is on my photoblog Enlarge to get the detail that is very clear in this one.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Feeling good - it's just a thought

A wonderful artist Peter Donnelly frequents New Brighton beach. This isn't the most wonderful shot of his work, you can see more images in my photoblog but this is an example of a completed work (well, nearly completed) for those who can't manage the suspense!

Saturday, February 24, 2007

A real kiwi bach

Below is a real kiwi bach. Located far from sealed roads (about 20 minutes on winding, hilly, gravel road) out towards the coast on the Banks Peninsula. This is a wee cottage snuggled down in Little Pigeon Bay, on a working farm, on a small bay with chilly waters (and lots of fish).

There are lots of these little places dotted around the more remote parts of the coast. Unfortunately they are being replaced by homes that are more grand than our normal home, so the old 'make-do' attitude of mismatching spoons, and tattered old curtains, and the old wooden loo seat and no sound system is fast disappearing!

But this wee place remains, and hopefully this photo will remind us of the simple pleasures of sitting by the sea, sipping on a beer or a wine and watching the seagulls glide and swoop.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Another pet hate

Just a quick one - RIGHT NOW I HATE the cellophane wrapping around CD's and DVD's!!
end of rant.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

I'm bored... the chant of the noncreative

I have a pet hate - well I've got more than one, but today this one is my bugbear.

I do not understand how anyone with free access to books, pen and paper, time and/or music or art or things that make a mark can possibly become bored.

I have two kids, you've met one of them already. The other is 16 and full of testosterone and loves to ride a motorbike and write and do things on the net. I have encountered a couple of other kids at close quarters, about the same age. They all say without a moment's hesitation that they are 'bored'. This is despite free access to all the entertainment of TV, internet, video, DVD, music, plus the Great Outdoors - and all that I have listed above.

Yet, they are B O R E D.

How on EARTH can you be bored when there is all THIS to be engaged with?? I don't understand!

I can remember when I was about 12 my mother said to someone 'I don't know how kids can be bored, my two are never bored' - well apart from the hours we seemed to spend doing housework and going to church, I can't actually remember being bored. There were always things to do - read a book, draw a picture, write a story, listen to music, talk to a friend, dance, play the piano - is there a theme happening here?

What I notice is that all of these things require a sense of curiosity, can be done alone, demand concentration, involve creativity and imagination - and don't involve a computer cable!

Here is my thought for the day: It is impossible to be bored unless you lack the ability to be creative. Or to put it another way, a bored mind is a boring mind.