From teeny-tiny fungi to crazy kākā, the 2018 Zealandia calendar is a cracker! The creating of the calendar is one of the biggest projects my volunteer Sanctuary Storytellers group at Zealandia undertakes. Every year it gets better and better, with gorgeous wildlife photography and compelling stories. And at $19.90, it makes the perfect stocking stuffer or secret Santa gift. You can get it from the Visitors Centre shop or order online.
Not only are there 13 months, but NZ holidays are marked along with significant wildlife and conservation days. And every cent made goes back into conservation.
A true team effort with photos, writing, research, and editing from: myself, Vanya Bootham, Rosemary Cole, Brendon Doran, Lynn Freeman, Chris Gee, Chris Helliwell, Eeva-Katri Kumpula, Hayley May, Janice McKenna, Linton Miller, Ali McDonald, and Louise Slocombe.
"Orbell" - one of the new takahē at Zealandia - is now visible to the public if you keep your eyes and ears turned on. Binoculars help too! Orbell's partner, "Nio", remains elusive, but if you listen, you can sometimes hear them calling to one another. This morning we hoped to get lucky and get some of the first "public" photos (i.e., photos from public tracks and without needing privileged access) of the new, blue, dynamic duo.
The first clue that we might get lucky was the sign of fresh "taka-poo" on the stop bank. We then heard Orbell's low booming warning call, letting us know he was somewhere nearby. We got some glimpses of him through the undergrowth in the wetlands, and then he kindly headed out into the grassy area in the middle of the wetlands where he was in easy viewing. It was such a delight being able to point him out to visitors!
After feeding in the grasses for half an hour or so, he headed back into the more shrubby area and came over to check us out, while remaining the other side of the creek in the safety of the undergrowth.
It was definitely the day for long lenses and manual focusing as there was never a clear view of him without grass or leaves in the way. I'm pretty happy with these shots, knowing with his increased confidence that soon we should get some closer unobstructed views of him.
If you're hoping to see or photograph them - like when viewing any shy bird - stay quiet, keep at a distance, and be respectful of their space. Going in at a quieter time, like first thing in the morning, is also advisable. And if you do get lucky, do post your photos on Zealandia's Visitor Art & Photography facebook page.
It's taken me this long to complete the second quarter of the Dogwood 2017 weekly photography challenge because I struggled to get Week 14 Panning completed. Panning is hard! So without further ado, here are the results....
Week 14 - Panning (Technical)
This challenge has been "dogging" me for weeks, so what better subject to choose than a doggo. Must be the slowest pan ever done, but it's done!
Week 15 - Hard (Artistic)
Struggling with a borrowed camera and trying to line the moon up while hanging out a window - HARD!
Week 16 - Leading Lines (Story)
I love the sinuous curves of the top dam at Zealandia!
Week 17 - Loop Lighting (Technical)
Linton very kindly agreed to be my model for this challenge. One of the first photos taken with our new Sony a9 too - I'm loving the shallow depth of field I can get with the Sony FE 50mm/f1.4 lens (this image taken at f1.8.). Although it was a lighting challenge, I chose to just use natural light to achieve the loop effect.
Week 18 - Purple (Artistic)
The Melbourne "Artists Down Under" get-together gave us a number of fantastic photo opportunities, and I kept the Dogwood challenges in mind as we went out exploring the city. This was taken in ACDC Lane in the Melbourne Laneways.
Week 19 - Back Yard (Story)
The depths of winter and nothing but rain, rain, rain; there were still bursts of colour to be found though.
Week 20 - Sky Overlay (technical)
This challenge was far more to my liking! Though admittedly, the sky overlay was only a minor part of the compositing involved in creating this picture. This ended up being the eponymous image in my "Visions of Zealandia" exhibition, in a limited edition of 5 at 70x70cm on archival Breathing Color Lyve canvas, exclusive to Zealandia. Delighted that two have sold already!
Week 21 - Soft (Artistic)
This is a bittersweet image of "T2" Takahē giving his partner "Puffin" Takahē a lovely noogie in the soft floofy feathers on the back of her neck. Sadly, only a few weeks later, Puffin passed away at the ripe old age of 22 years, leaving T2 a widower. She will be remembered fondly by us all at Zealandia.
Week 22 - Geometric Shapes (Story)
Taken in the Melbourne Laneways; I like how the squares and rectangles of the windows and walls reflect and reinforce the narrow rectangular confines of the laneways but also help frame an escape into the natural world.
Week 23 - F8 Portrait (Technical)
Skipper Chris Gee obligingly modeled for this portrait; the technique of shooting with a narrower aperture than normal for a portrait helps to give more environmental context. Here the Zealandia valve tower provides an easily identifiable landmark.
Week 24 - Green (Artistic)
So many greens in this patch of parsley; playing with artistic depth of field at f1.4.
Week 25 - Toy Story (Story)
Here the story continues from Week 10 (left) with Nurse Pooh stitching up poor Ginger Bear (right) after her tumble in "Did she fall or was she pushed?".
Week 26 - Light Painting (Technical)
Had quite a bit of fun with this one - 30 second shutter speed and using a torch (flashlight for you Americans) to paint light over the scene. Takes quite a bit of trial and error, as you might imagine.
Six months down, six to go! It's been an interesting ride so far and gets me out of my comfort zone.
With more rain forecast, we headed out this morning to Zealandia to get a quick walk in and see if anything interesting was happening.
There are still 7 pāteke ducklings, going through the "ugly duckling" phase - still very cute though!
Showing off their "pāteke" stomp!
As the weather began to pack up, so did we... I do love the ethereal cloud clinging to the trees though.
...go to Zealandia of course! Of course? Yes it might be a bit chilly, and a bit showery, and a bit gloomy, but rug up well and you'll see lots and have fun!
Today four of us headed out, picking up a couple of strays along the way. For once we were all shooting with micro four-thirds cameras (a Panasonic GX7, two GX8's, and an Olympus OM-D), which given the low light was going to be challenging, but we were up for it. Well most of us were - Janice was certainly missing her Canon 1DX. It wasn't a day for birds in flight, so I decided early on to just pop on my 20mm/f1.7 prime and see how far I could push it.
After a hearty breakfast for some at Rata Cafe, we headed in just in time for the first shower. A quick change of plans and we grabbed the boat instead and took the sheltered scenic route into the valley. This week's Dogwood photo challenge is an f/8 portrait, so what better subject than Skipper Chris. I like how the narrower aperture means the valve tower comes into focus in the background.
At the other end of the lake, T2 and Puffin takahē were of course waiting for their visitors. Fortunately they don't mind people getting close so long as they're respectful about it, and I was able to get a nice photo of rather bedraggled T2 being a poser. I should have gotten down lower, but I didn't want a wet knee and I have already taken thousands of photos of these two characters over the years!
Next stop, fungi of course, with fun-gal Hayley! Along Te Mahanga track there are many choice spots. Hayley was quite taken with these teeny-tiny white mushrooms. I was more taken by her glorious pink pom-pom which lit up the dark bush.
There were some spectacular specimens to see. I didn't have a tripod, so instead opened the aperture, shot in burst mode and mean-stacked the results to denoise. With no wind and a non-moving subject, this is a technique I turn to more and more.
Some of us were struggling more with their cameras than others...
The light is always very low along Te Mahanga Track, but there are still fabulous photo ops, like this glowing nīkau palm.
We weren't the only ones happily visiting the valley. Funnily enough, the birds don't mind the rain and there is always lots to see and hear. The curve of the rails of the upper dam make for some lovely leading lines (which meant I could knock off a Dogwood challenge from a few weeks ago - I'm so behind!!).
There are some lovely vistas from the top dam looking over the upper lake on one side and over the lower valley on the other (see panorama at the top of this blog).
It was then back to Rata Cafe to dry out and warm up with hot chocolates!
Judi Lapsley Miller
The natural world and wildlife conservation provides endless joy and despair, beauty and devastation. I strive to advocate for our endangered species and ecosystems and am currently exploring wildlife advocacy through creative interpretation.