Weekly photo challenge: Face

If you’re looking for some mild amusement, and you have an Apple computer, check out the Faces option in the ‘Apple Photos’ application. It collects images of faces, that is, anything that resembles two human eyes above a nose above a mouth. It doesn’t always get it right. Sometimes it finds sculpted faces, though they can look real enough, like these resting on top of the pond in the Sculpture Garden at the National Gallery, faces that produce a physical reaction in passers-by:

Heads National Gallery Sculpture Garden
Dadang Christanto, ‘Heads from the North’ 2004, Sculpture Garden, National Gallery of Australia

It’s not just 3D images it finds; even 2D painted faces are thrown into the collection with photos of real faces. Here it places two faces from For of Such is the Kingdom of Heaven by Frank Bramley (1891) hanging in the Auckland Art Gallery, New Zealand, next to my beautiful daughters-in-law:

Beautiful girls painted and real

How about this image of a sun sinking into the sea? I do love a good sunset, but if I’m looking for the reassurance of a human face, I prefer my son, not the sun!

Sunset and handsome boy

But even more mysterious, curious and ridiculous, a photo of a kangaroo’s tail and back legs, sideways. I’ve looked at this circle with my glasses on and glasses off. I can’t see any face. But it’s good for a laugh!

Kangaroo tail, sideways

It was truly surprising to see all the faces (recognised by Apple) from my photos. There were even some I had previously ignored for being too small or blurry in the background of another subject. As I was scrolling through them all, another son walked into the room and exclaimed his delight at all the faces of our family and friends appearing in a long stream across my screen. It was a bit of fun, and was fit fodder for the photo challenge this week.


Weekly photo challenge: Unexpected and fragrant

In Wellington, New Zealand, there’s a wooden church that’s a church by name but not by nature.  From the outside, it’s small, cream, nineteenth-century, Gothic Revival.  Quaint.

Old St Paul's, Wellington, NZ
Old St Paul’s, 1865, Wellington, NZ

When the ‘open’ sign is displayed, visitors are welcome.  And when they step inside, many exclaim ‘Wow!’.  They don’t expect to see an interior composed entirely of rich native timbers like kauri, rimu, totara and matai.  The eye goes straight to the vault, which resembles the upturned hull of an ancient vessel.  And visitors don’t expect an old church to smell so good.  The timber has not lost its fragrant essence over the centuries.  It reminded me of a small cedar box I own; I’ve had it for thirty years, yet with each opening of the lid it releases a heady fragrance forcing me to inhale deeply.  And so it was when I entered this church.  I wanted to return, to worship.  But it now serves only for concerts and events like weddings.

Interior, Old St Paul's, Wellington NZ
Interior, Old St Paul’s, 1865, Wellington NZ

Ailsa has posted a challenge this week for photos evoking a particular fragrance.  For anyone who has been inside Old St Paul’s in Wellington, this photo will have you breathing and remembering.

The colours of New Zealand – South North Island!

Last week I posted photos from our time in Auckland, and on the volcanic plateau, and in Hawke’s Bay on the North Island of New Zealand.


Our last stop was at a small bay north of the capital, Wellington.  To say it was windy would be an understatement.  It blew cold constant gusts that drew my hair up and out and often over my face at the moment I wanted to click a photo.  Many of my shots were taken blind, like a lucky dip photographer.  Take a look at these trees on the beach;  there’s no way they can grow vertically!

Windblown tree, Titahi Bay, NZ
Windblown trees, Titahi Bay, NZ

But before we got to this little place, Titahi Bay, we drove through an interesting town established by Scandinavian immigrants in the 19th century: Norsewood.


In Norsewood, we went through this little museum which must have had the same architect as the Literary Institute in Gundaroo, NSW!  The museum is painted a rich burgundy red, a contrast to the snow-white houses we saw everywhere in New Zealand.  By the verandah grows a great bunch of deep pink Watsonias, another flower that appeared in all sorts of gardens in NZ, even neglected ones.

Museum, Norsewood, NZ
Museum, Norsewood, NZ


While the iconic blue-green-purple Pāua shells are found on most beaches and are available in all the souvenir shops, I found something else, less common but equally iridescent and resembling the Pāua shells in their colours – this turn-of-the-century wedding dress on display in Norsewood museum.  Clearly, the Scandinavian migrants had to improvise and make do in this strange new land;  both the bodice and skirt are decorated with beetle casings:

Wedding dress, Norsewood museum, NZ
Beetle casings adorning a wedding dress, Norsewood museum, NZ


At each end of the curving beach of Titahi Bay, there are colourful boat sheds sitting on one of the flattest pieces of ground in this region: the beach.  See the hill behind them?  In this area near Wellington every house is built on a hill, all with someone else looking down on them (except those at the very top!).

Boat sheds, Titahi Bay, NZ
Boat sheds, Titahi Bay, NZ

And that’s it for our colourful New Zealand holiday.  There were many other places we visited along the way, but I’ve enjoyed leaving some hints of this country’s beauty here on this blog.  You have to go there!  And I have to go back!

The colours of New Zealand: Hawke’s Bay, North Island

After spending time in Auckland, New Zealand, and driving through the volcanic plateau, we moved on for a great week in Hawke’s Bay on the east coast of the North Island.  Again, as last week, I found broad strokes of individual colours wherever we went.  There was plenty of:


A matching blue bay and sky:  the view from our accommodation.  Most days.

View from Bluff Hill, Napier, NZ
View from Bluff Hill, Napier, NZ


As in Auckland, there are lots of white houses in Hawke’s Bay, especially the older wooden houses, the type that survive earthquakes.  But there are plenty of creative individuals living here, like the neighbours who built a house with a cylinder attached and painted it with a yellow that says ‘look at me!’.

Houses old and new, Napier, NZ
Houses old and new, Napier, NZ


Red Valerian is a beautiful flower that’s not red but rather a couple of shades of pink, and springs up in any crack where a seed has fallen.  In New Zealand I saw it growing in most gardens, jutting out of retaining walls, through rockfall-catching wire on cliff faces, and on the seashore.  Some call it a weed, some call it a colourful filler.  No doubt it needs to be controlled.  I took this photo in drizzle under a grey sky.  The blue days had passed…

Valerian on beachfront, Hawke's Bay, NZ
Red Valerian on beachfront, and kite surfer in the rain, Hawke’s Bay, NZ


There are also flowers around Hawke’s Bay which there should be more of, like Bird of Paradise with its orange crests.

Bird of Paradise, Napier, NZ
Bird of Paradise near the Aquarium, Napier, NZ


When we climbed the moist leaf-littered paths that wound uphill through Tiffen Park, we saw masses of blue and purple flowers growing wild.  I don’t know what they’re called but I hope they’re not invaders.  Here we were about a third of the way up the hill.  When you go to New Zealand, you go up a lot of steps, steep streets and driveways, hills and cliffs.  But going down feels really good!

Tiffen Park, Napier, NZ
Tiffen Park, Napier, NZ


On the walls and in parks in Napier, there are quotations written or sculpted which offer promise and hope.  They are signs that this town has not only revived after a horrendous earthquake back in 1931 but is thriving partly because of it.  The town was rebuilt in Art Deco, the style of the time, and today it is unique as an example of this architecture constructed in the two-year period 1931/32.  The quotation below which I saw painted in an otherwise interest-free alley is a reminder that good things can come from bad.  If you can read backwards, that is.

Thoreau quotation, alley wall, Napier, NZ
Thoreau quotation, alley wall, Napier, NZ


And here’s an example of one of the buildings constructed in the Art Deco style after the earthquake and recently refurbished, attracting masses of tourists each week.  It’s open to the public and just as handsome inside.

Art Deco architecture, Napier NZ
Art Deco architecture, Napier NZ


We went on a two-hour trip with a Maori elder, Robert McDonald, up to a peak, Te Mata, where he recounted the history of Maori in New Zealand.  In the photo below he stands next to his tribe’s pou whenua, or land post.  Its face is carved like that of Robert’s ancestor, one of the Waimārama chiefs who signed the Treaty of Waitangi in 1841 with the European settlers. At the bottom of the second photo below, (actually the Waimārama Maori Tours information card), is his mark made on the Treaty and the words he spoke, ‘te tohu o te tangata’ which mean ‘the mark of the man’.  His facial tattoo indicates his status as an important chief of his tribal group.  The portrait was painted by Gottfried Lindauer, an Austrian artist who painted many Maori portraits in the late nineteenth century, some of which I saw in the Auckland Art Gallery and more of which you can see here.  They’re stunning!

Robert Macdonald, Maori elder, with his tribe's pou, Hastings, NZ
Robert MacDonald, Maori elder, with his tribe’s pou, Hastings, NZ.
Harawira Mahikai Te Tatere, Waimārama chief, NZ
Harawira Mahikai Te Tatere, Waimārama chief, NZ, by Gottfried Lindauer (photo courtesy Waimārama Maori tours postcard)

The colours of New Zealand – volcanic plateau, North Island

A couple of days ago I posted about single colours I came across in Auckland, New Zealand, on this, my first trip there.  After leaving Auckland, my husband and I made our way down through the middle of the North Island, stopping for morning tea where the roses on tables were twice the size of those in my Australian garden.  The land on either side of the road was green green green.  And bumpy:  the hills rising from the surface are steep and lush and crowded together.


Green: the colour of the fertile volcanic hills, North Island, NZ

Around lunch time we stopped at Rotorua for a few hours, known by some as Sulphur City.  That was a different experience.  The pools we saw were in a large park where each one was fenced off.  A few odd small eruptions had appeared and were not yet fenced, so we could reach down and feel the water.  It was HOT.


Brown: the colour of boiling sulphur-smelling mud, Rotorua.


Grey: the colour of vegetation surrounding boiling mud pools, Rotorua NZ
Grey: the colour of vegetation surrounding boiling mud pools, Rotorua NZ

The colours of New Zealand – Auckland

New Zealand is a country just three hours’ flight from my home, yet I had never been there till last week.  It’s a gap in my travelling experience I was ashamed of when meeting New Zealanders in Europe!  Well, now I can say I know something about NZ, and I can agree with all those who have told me it’s beautiful.  I enjoyed finding particular scenes where one colour was dominant, and happily snapped a multitude of photos.

I went with my husband, who’s been to NZ a few times before.  Without me.  Auckland was our first port of call, where I was struck by an inviting turquoise sea, streets lined with white houses, and a knockout red wrought iron fence.


Red street lamps, Port of Auckland, NZ
Red street lamps, Port of Auckland, NZ


White weatherboard houses with white fences under white clouds


Boats on a turquoise harbour, Auckland