Monday, May 27, 2013

My New Little Friend

So...I was sitting in the car park at Hagley Park and this little booger goes bounding across the stones and tucks himself under the tyre of one of the cars parked.

I get my camera out, thinking, no way I'm gonna be quick enough.

Quickly, he hops between the cars and hides under another one. I'm pretty sure he knows I'm there. I can sense his caution.

By this point I'm thinking surely my time is running out. He's not gonna let me get any closer, and he's going to make a break for it any minute.

Then, he's gone. Scurried away.

But hang on. What's that little blob?'s him again. Bolder....he's sitting out in the open, munching away on something little, not a care in the world. I think he's decided I'm not going to hurt him. 

 But he doesn't sit still for long. He's on the move again. Runs to a huge oak tree and starts to climb. 

This little guy is watching it all from a safe distance.

Time for a rest. He tucks his nose into a tiny crevice, breathing hard. This being a model is hard work.

Now I'm wondering about the macro lens. It'd be fun to try and get some close up shots. But the car and my camera bag is 50 metres away. If I go get the other lens he'll probably be gone when I get back. So I watch him for a while longer, then decide to go for the macro.

 When I get back he's still there. Or maybe it's a she. Anyway. He's still chowing down on...something. I think he missed  me.

I explain to him the concept of macro. It's close up. Close. Up. He nods, understanding. He doesn't seem to mind my demands. 
 So down I squat, carefully. I'm sure he's still a little nervous about the whole "close up" thing. Set camera to manual focus. Stupid lens. Auto-focus is too slow. He's patient. Munching.

I sloooooowly move the camera lens closer to him. Snapping away. He's not completely co-operative. He's refusing to look me in the eye. Or the lens. But at least he's not running away, and I'm getting closer to him.

Munch munch munch.

Scrunch scrunch scrunch.

I feel we're ready to move our relationship to another level. Move in just a little closer. Just a few centimetres away, he's not concerned at all.
I don't know what he's eating but it must be delicious. He's oblivious and I'm pretty sure I saw him burp and smile. 

I'm pushing my luck, I know. No way he's going to let me get any closer. Not that I need to because I'm almost at the focal length of the lens, and I sense he's gonna make a run for it.

But no. He's not going to make a run for it. He's possibly as curious as I am. He doesn't run away from my lens, he jumps towards it. My camera is basically on the ground.

Now, while I'm not normally inclined to post blurry, out of focus photos (it's hard to even confess that I take blurry OOF photos!), but I thought I'd make an exception. Because this photo below is of my new little friend...SITTING INSIDE MY LENS HOOD!! (the brown blob bottom right-ish). Sorry it's not in focus, but I'm not sure any lens within my budget could take that photo in focus.

I'm not sure I'm ready to call myself a wild-life photographer, and I'm pretty sure National Geographic won't be calling me any time soon, but I had a fun 40 minutes or so with this little guy. I left him sitting in his cubby hole at the base of the oak tree, still happily munching away. When I left the park half an hour later he was nowhere to be seen. Felt a little sad about that.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

An Observation of Observation

Someone once said We do not see what we see, we only see what we expect to see.

I like to think I'm the observant type. I look around me as I go. I look people in the eye (even those who are obviously trying not to reciprocate). And often I take an arguably juvenile pleasure in seeing those things that others (apparently) do not. I spend my days trying to find those little - or big - things we don't usually expect to see (some of which form the essence of a great photo).

So, when you're sitting at Burger King minding your own business, stuffing your face with hash bites, and you see a woman in the rain drop a ten dollar note in the Countdown parking lot, what do you do? 

Of course, you wonder how long it will be 'til someone spots it. And you get your camera out and wait.

Don't you?

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(I thought about trying to let her know she'd dropped it, but, well, I thought my idea would be much more fun - if it had been a bigger note, my attempt to let her know would have been proportional. Just sayin)

One guy stood ON the note!

Even this seagull didn't notice it

I understand that some (most) drivers wouldn't necessarily see it (Julie!), but I'm pretty sure I'd see it if I was driving over it in a car park.

These people walked past it THREE times!!

Forty minutes, probably fifty cars and about a hundred people drove/walked by, close enough to spot a ten dollar note laying on the ground. As my mother used to say if it was a dog it would have bitten them.

Finally, this guy's mate pointed it out to him and he grabbed it. And with a nice touch he gave his mate a fiver he had in his pocket so they shared the find. Ironically, the guy who picked this up didn't notice another bit of paper that fell out of his pocket as he pulled out the fiver to give to his friend. Luckily, it wasn't a fifty. LOL.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Earthquake Fatigue

There are probably many definitions of "earthquake fatigue". Every Cantabrian probably has their own interpretation of the term. Each is probably correct.

The original red zone, which, after Feb 22, 2011, was pretty much the massive area of city and land enclosed in the four avenues, has been shrinking daily as buildings have been demolished, spaces have been cleared, and regular human beings migrate back into the CBD and surrounding environs. Yesterday, the red zone became even small with the opening of a section of Cathedral Square. Pretty soon, the red zone will consist of a fence around the crumbling Christ Church Cathedral.

I am earthquake fatigued. It's not about the moving house; it's not about our driveway being dug up and having to park on the street for three weeks just as the frosts start; it's not about still having to add 20 minutes to any trip to any part of town. Those things and many more make every day a pain in the ass, but they are not the core of my earthquake fatigue.

Every now and then I decide to take a wander down town in the hopes of getting some photos, perchance even some photos of something interesting (to me). But I'm running out of subjects. There are only so many photos one can take of demolished buildings, and lord knows I've taken a few. I'm over demolished buildings. They used to be fascinating. Interesting. Topical. Now they're all just boring. Depressing. Old news.

The CBD is depressing. Certain factions would have us believe it is coming alive. I'm not convinced. There's nothing pretty in the CBD. ReStart mall is a smaller version of the shopping that was in the CBD before - boutique, expensive, niche. The Gap Filler installations are unique and inspiring, but they seem to be temporary, or poorly attended. There are splashes of colour...overshadowed but a dark depressing destruction.

So I walked the circle of the new cordon, looking for those things that jump up and scream to be photographed. Sadly, they are almost non-existent.

Most places are unrecognisable. I stood on street corners and couldn't for the life of me remember what used to be in that space. Or that space. Or that one.

One place I did recognise. We had dinner here, and watched a show. I have no idea what this place was called.

Now it's a shell. One of many shells. Empty. Meaningless, except for a tinge of sadness.

I seem to remember some controversy with this building, may have been another one. There is so much controversy over so many buildings I don't care any more about insurance and heritage quibbles.

Regent Street. What were they thinking? Great fanfare about its reopening, as if shopping had returned to the stricken CBD. Yeah right. Most of the shops are still empty. Some are still run down and damaged. It's still a construction site. At either end of this "picturesque" street are demolition sites. It's dusty. If you leave your latte uncovered for any amount of time you have to scoop off a layer of debris before you can take another mouthful. 

What were they thinking????

The nicest part of being in Regent Street was meeting up with an old friend who is working on a new exciting project and wants me on board.

If this is how the CBD will be returned to us - one stagnant street at a time - I'll stick to the comfortable, stress-free malls.

And don't get me started about this place. It hasn't changed (it seems) in two and a half years. Politics, religion, money. It's a joke. Both sides are a joke. Everybody's talking, nobody's listening. And every time the place hits the news we have to put up with the droning monotone of the Mostly Reverend Matthews. He really needs to get some elocution lessons. And a personality.

The stroll was boring. The only people on the streets were disaster tourists and the six people who still work in the CBD. The empty spaces all blend together into one sink-hole of nothingness. I don't know the actual numbers but it seems there is more not there than there. That's disconcerting. I can't imagine how much more disconcerting it might be for someone who grew up in those streets.

I'm tired of living in a city that in parts looks like Beirut. I'm tired of waiting in traffic. I'm tired of walking and driving on bumpy cracked stony roads and paths. I'm tired of hearing about EQC dramas on Campbell Live. I'm tired of our garage flooding every time it rains (that's not necessarily because of the earthquakes, I just thought I'd say it). I'm tired of hearing trucks and jackhammers and diggers everywhere I go. I'm tired. I am suffering from earthquake fatigue.