Monday, October 7, 2013

Perfectly Pampered

It's great when birthday celebrations linger ... makes getting older a bit more bearable.
Today my new 'fashion' camera bag arrived - a present from my parents - and I also redeemed a voucher for a two hour Pamper Package gifted to me by a very dear friend.
I got quite used to being 'pampered' on recent trips to Bali and Thailand where massages, manicures and pedicures were almost daily (and still wonderful) occurrences. However here in little old NZ, the cost of regular pampering of this kind, is prohibitive for most of us. So I was extra happy with this gift.
The experience consisted of a 30 minute massage (it was awesome), a manicure and a fantastic facial. I also paid for a pedicure (Blue toes to match my blue bag hehe)
But! Post massage and pre manicure I had my first ever "hand mask". It was delicious! If you haven't had one it consists of submerging your entire hand into (in this case, rose scented) warm, gluggy wax, which immediately sets on your hand when you pull it out. The hands are then wrapped in cling film and put inside huge mittens to stay warm while the beauty treatment continues. When all is unwrapped 30 mins or so later, the wax just falls off and your skin feels amazing (So many superlatives in this post!)
My post 40 year old hands feel fantastic! I'd go back just for one of those.

Friday, October 4, 2013


Serendipity has always been one of my favorite words.
Now I have combined that with one of my favourite things - photography.
Thanks to the inspiration and advice from a group of special fellow-amatuer photographer friends, the "Serendipity Photography" Facebook page is now up and running.
In the 'long description' they ask you to give on set up, I wrote...

It is said that quality photos are made, rather than simply taken. I definitely believe this. However I personally find joy in that special moment that presents itself, and take great pleasure in capturing that serendipitous moment in a photograph. 
I am always scanning the environment around me for those informal moments that may never present themselves again. My camera is almost always with me.
I love shooting people, and enjoy building a relationship with my subjects to enable the real person to be seen through the lens. I enjoy creating simple images that tell a story. BUT... I look out for that serendipitous moment again in these shoots, and it's often the photos that cannot be recreated, that tend to be my personal favourites.
Whilst 'finding' the photos is a favourite aspect of photography for me, I also love learning more about the technical side of things, and am increasing my post-processing skills all the time as well.
Making photos makes me happy; equally, sharing them with those who are invested in them, and seeing their reactions, gives me just as much pleasure!

Please visit my page and 'like' it :)

Thursday, September 26, 2013


Took the plunge and entered another photographic competition tonight. Just entered one section - Panorama, and entered the maximum of 4 in that section.
Thought I would share them here on my blog, but for some reason they are all looking overexposed and/or over-saturated on this page. Weird.

Anyway, which one do you like best, and why?

 "Iconic" - It may be too simple for the competition, but the colour and simplicity please my eye!

 "Dry As" - not a new image, but a new crop. I like it so much better as a panoramic crop!

"Protecting the View" - Last month's MPS Open Image of the Month. I do NOT like how it has uploaded here! The orignal image has no green

"Storm Brewing" - taken as we about to get in the ferry to leave Tiritiri Matangi island. I'm breaking the rules here, by putting the bird smack bang in the middle, but I like that it makes a triangle.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Family Portrait with a Twist

Today I took some photos for my second family, the Dad of which is off on an overseas mission for some time. They wanted some family portraits, and I saw an idea which I thought was right up this technology-infused family's alley, so I tried it...
I'm cross that I did not see the glare on the Mum's laptop, and I do need to get to know the capabilities of my flash more.... but cest la vie.
In the first one they posed with a picture (of their choice) of themselves on a device. It works. But I LOVE the second shot where they tried to replicate the photo on the screen. Hilarious. And so 'them'.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Indelible Memories

There are some occasions that you know you will never forget - such as our evening last night at Auckland's Euro Bar and Restaurant. The synchronicity of great friends, amazing food and some pretty fine wines was enhanced by our position at the chef's table, where we were cooked for and waited on by our own personal staff. Their ability to interact when appropriate but allow us to totally enjoy ourselves, the food and the company, was most appreciated. Yes, we paid for it, but because it was such a special night, I am sure the pain in my wallet will fade long before the lingering memories on my palate, and the warmth in my heart.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

A Happy Post

I'm not quite sure where to focus this bog post - no pun intended. While the photos below are about the fun and interesting learning I did today about flash photography, and while that learning was the reason I went, I came away with a full heart for a combination of reasons.

Yes, I loved indulging in my passion for a whole day; being the student, being pushed out of my comfort zone, successes and failures, some quality learning experiences. But a very significant aspect of the day (and the learning), and a huge contributor to my enjoyment, was the dynamics of the group of seven strangers thrown together for the day.

Of these seven, I was the only Kiwi born - gotta love living in Auckland. We also ranged in age and in photographic experience. The first person I met was a seasoned photographer from my spiritual home of the Bay of Plenty. He lived in Waihi, but had had originally hailed from the UK, and when he came to NZ in the 70s, settled in.... Edgecumbe, basically where I grew up, and where I went to college. Another of the women was UK born, and another from the US, and she had just finished her primary teaching training as a mature student. A third girl was Dubai born, and Richard was from Korea, via a stint in the States. The story he told of his departure to NZ being marred by a certain historic world event - the bombing of the Twin Towers - began the longest introductory session our tutor said he'd experienced. But hearing and sharing small pieces of what brought us to the group certainly set the scene for the day, and made for a vibrant culture; one that no doubt contributed to the collaborative nature of our learning. Our tutor, a South Africa native, had a personality which allowed for and encouraged our individuality, questions and sharing.

So I guess this post is about learning and about people. A reflection on my work life and what really 'worked' for me as a learner today, and how I can translate that back into my school life. And people... not only the positive vibe this group created, which in turn facilitated said learning, but also about how much enjoyment I get from opportunities to meet, mix and mingle with different folk, with different strokes. And while I may or may not have made lasting connections today, I will recall this day with memories of warmth and genuine enjoyment. It was a happy day.

Playing with bounce flash

Experimenting with second curtain

Getting gear ready for off camera flash shooting

Getting settings sorted for Spooky Alleyway Shots lol

Don't Look Back #1
Don't Look Back #2

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Changing Skies

As I have blogged about previously, I visit the same patch of grass many times each week, and have done for over 6 years since getting my dogs. Try as I may, and I often do, I cannot always see something different in such familiar surroundings, even when using my photographer's eye.
Tonight, after reasonably late work departure, I taxied the boys to the reserve for a quick run as the sun was on its way out for the day. I had my camera in the car, so tried to find that 'something different'.
These pics were taken within a ten minute time frame. They have had very little post processing. While they may not be the most technically brilliant shots, they do show the different moods in the sky, dependent on where I was standing and focussing, in relation to the sun.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

What is the meaning of...

We watched a couple of YouTube clips as part of our staff meeting today.

This little dude, philosophizing on the meaning of life, could teach us a think or two about reflection and introspection.
When asked "Are the events in life pre-destined" he says...
"It may be pre-destined, but you can change that destiny. I might be wrong, it might be just scheduled, like some play or something, and you act it, not knowing you are part of it... But all the same, maybe destiny's just telling you maybe you just know it, and that's what destiny is. Destiny is just a guess; a guess of what it knows about you, and what it knows you would do... But then again, I might be wrong. Destiny could totally be in control of you."

Now I must add that the topic of the staff meeting, and a major thrust of our professional learning this year, is 'Gifted and Talented'. "Gifted" is a label that generally makes me cringe, for the narrow view that is typically attached to it, particularly by the population at large -  that of academic aptitude. Don't get me wrong, this is an important area to acknowledge, but there are so many other aspects of a person that scream "exceptionality" (the new buzz word that sits far more comfortably with me).

In addition to the philosopher above, check out this dude, who made a "Rube Golburg" Monster Trap. He totally rocks! Exceptional!

Saturday, August 3, 2013


This weekend  am feeling lost. Lost because it's the weekend and I don't have my fifth limb, my camera.
I lost my camera about ten days ago, and have been asked several times how and where I lost it. A valid question. As I was involved in gathering shots for a competition I basically had it with me all the time for about a week. I have a best case scenario theory of how I actually lost it, but fact is, I was clearly careless and left it behind somewhere. While I think I know where (a very public place) I cannot be 100% sure, a conundrum that makes me incredibly cross with myself. Alternatively, someone, somehow could have taken from my car - if I had left it unlocked, which I never do.
However the fact remains that it has gone, and my best recollection of events has been told to police and insurance. And despite being approved for insurance over a week ago, I am still waiting for the payout, and approval to upgrade, the one thing about losing my camera that gives me a bit of light.
I have been fortunate to have had the loan of a good friend's camera, identical to the one I lost, for the last little while, but handed it back to her yesterday. So grateful for the time I had it!
Pending insurance, the pic here is what I intend to purchase. A Canon 6D with a 24-105 lens.
But until I have one in my hot little hands I am feeling a bit mopey and ... lost.

Monday, July 22, 2013

You can take the girl out of the farm but...

... it would seem you can't take the farm out of the girl.
Warning - one of these photos may turn the stomach of non-farmish folk!

Yesterday, as part of my quest to capture photos for an MPS club competition, I took myself out to Ambury Regional Park to see if the afternoon light was any good on the west coast.
The park features a farm, and it's the time of year for lambing. Visitors are allowed to meander through the paddocks en route to the coastal walkway, so long as the mums and bubs are given a wide berth.
It was like being transported back 35 years, though the paddock was flat as opposed to very hilly, and I was on foot, not horseback. If I am correct, the sheep were perendales, just like ours were, and the lambs looked just like the hundreds I'd seen and handled growing up. I actually delighted in watching them feed (especially through my zoom lens) and comedically bounce on all fours as they do.

I noticed a ewe lying down some distance away and took a closer - but still distant - look to make sure she was OK. I suspected she was giving birth and I did not want to disturb that process.
However as I skirted around her I noticed a very still lamb and a distressed Mum.
As I knelt down to the lamb, my recollections of how my Dad would encourage life into a struggling newborn kicked in. Check for mucus over the mouth, some 'slaps' on the chest' etc... I stopped short of mouth to mouth (not that my Dad would have done this either!) as the body was almost cold and by then I know she'd already lost her struggle. Despite having seen this sort of thing so many times growing up, I was really, really sad... I could hear myself saying "Wake up, baby! Wake up, baby!"... but it didn't help.
Now, if I'd had my Dad's lambing belt, crook and a good turn of speed, maybe I'd have 'stolen' one of the only set of twins I spied, skinned the dead baby, made some slits for the legs and heads, and dressed the 'twin' in the newly fashioned jacket so he smelled like the grieving Mum's baby and she'd accept him as her own.
Instead on my return to the carpark, I hunted down a park ranger and told her the sad news instead.
The collateral damage of all this was, in my efforts to save a lambie life, I did disturb the birthing Mum. who ran off with her half delivered baby hanging out her bum - which is the photo I warned about. Also something I have seen several times before, and in mast cases, they do lie down again and deliver - though last seen this ewe was grazing!


Saturday, July 20, 2013

Cooler Than Michael Jackson

Back in the early 1990s this was some accolade. Probably still rings true today!

As a teacher, you often receive lovely little notes from certain students in your class - they are always heartwarming and some touch you more than others, for a range of reasons. Mainly they attest to the fact that you are pretty special to that person, and getting a genuine one really does go a long way to make a teacher's day. Having not had a class to call my own for some years now due to my management role, the relationships formed that lead to these sorts of childish (in the nicest sense) appreciation, don't occur as easily. It's the aspect of classroom teaching I miss the most. (The relationships, not the notes!)

Which is why when I stumbled across this wee gem in one of my boxes of 'Memorabilia' some months ago, I took a snap of it with my phone. I found the photo again yesterday when I updated phones, and was going through and deleting pics.

It was written by a special student (yes, yes, they are all special) at the end of her Std 2 (Year 4) year, at a time when I was changing schools. So working back, it would have been 1993 to be specific.
If you can't quite make it out the writing, here's what it says...

Dear Miss Fothergill
It's so sad that you're moving but as Mum said "She's young and so that means she has to move around to get to know other people". I guess she's right. In my old school, my teacher Ms Honeyfield was teaching the same people the next year. I wish it was the same.
Any was (sic) thanks a whole heap for teaching me this year. It's been great! I have to go now, because Mum is telling me to come and have your dinner young girl!
Bye for now.
Lots of love and kisses
from ...

I shall keep the name anonymous, as this person and I have made a reconnect as grown-ups (good old Facebook), and I don't want to 'out' and embarrass her. But if she reads this, it may just be a reminder that the kids are special to us teachers too.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Eyes on the Money

As my friends and family are aware, I have just had iLasik surgery. So far so good - the results and recovery are progressing as expected, so no regrets. But I would not have been able to get the procedure done were it not for the 24 month interest free offer for payment; it's a pretty bloody pricey bit of surgery. 
Considering it's all over in a matter of minutes, the hourly rate would be... phenomenal.
When my brother picked me up from my follow-up appointment today, he parked beneath the building where he spotted these beauties... a Maserati, an Astin Martin and a Porsche 4x4. We can only presume that they belong to the surgeons. After all they would be able to afford it!

PS The imposter is my shiny red Mazda 3 (Thanks Dan and Rik for the cleaning job!)

Monday, July 15, 2013

Guiltless Pleasure

So I am lucky enough to be on holiday at the moment. Yes there are plenty of purposeful things I could/should be doing around the house, but I've promised myself I'll clean one room a day, and I did do the laundry so... no guilt there. Also I ticked off one of my 'health checks' for the year this morning, so the guiltometer was well in the black.
Yes. Over the past couple of days I did something completely for myself that I have not done for a very long time... Totally dedicated my time to reading a book, like it was a mission, but a pleasurable one. Actually it was a mission that did have a timeframe, as I had to have it finished by Wednesday for my Book Club, but being a Jodi Picoult novel (her latest, The Storyteller), I figured that if past reads were anything to go by, it would not be an onerous task to get stuck into. This proved to be an accurate assumption; I pretty much devoured it, and almost felt duped at having finished it by 3pm today, with 2 days to spare.
So what did I think of it? It was good - not my favourite novel of hers, or my favourite war-themed book, but a thought provoking, sometimes harrowing, always 'entertaining' read. As with others' of hers I have read, I enjoyed the telling of the stories from the different characters/perspectives. I did wonder if the tale of the Ania and the 'upior' was a Ms Picoult trying to jump on the vampire popularity bandwagon, and while I got the allegorical comparison, I didn't especially enjoy that aspect.
I look forward to dissecting it further with my Bubbly Bookworm Buddies in a couple of evenings' time.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Paying it forward

I would like to share a link to another blog - one of the class blogs from my school.
I had the opportunity to share my photographic knowledge and experience with a wonderful group of 12 and 13 year olds this week, and was thrilled with their enthusiasm, learning and talent. 
This post from Gemma illustrates what one student took away from the time, and some of the photos she captured.
Here are a few more that they created; I was so proud!


Sunday, July 7, 2013


Caught this dude fishing today... but only just.

The tide was almost in and the water was mill-pond-like. This dude would disappear under the water and re-emerge quite some way away in his quest to find breakfast. After watching him on and off as we tracked a similar path (me on terra firma obviously) I heard a flurry in the still morning air and was just in time to catch him with his catch.

It's days like this I wish I had a bigger zoom. Sadly these are already heavily cropped.

It was an awesome morning to be out to catch photos though. Doing the 100 Days Project is not only making me take my camera with me all the time, but really is making me look out for extraordinary things in my everyday environment. There are special things everywhere people!

Monday, July 1, 2013

Peoples' Choice vs Judge's Choice

Stolen from Hugo
Tonight, buoyed by the encouragement of recent photographic successes, I went to my first night at a new photographic club, the Pukekohe Franklin Club.
I entered four images as entitled, selecting recycled images from MPS which had previously achieved honours. I was happy to get one honours and three HC... including HCs for two that had gained top honours of 'Image of the Night' at Manukau.
That, and a comment from the judge, reiterated the fact that photos, like all art forms, are 'judged' differently by individuals. The judge's comment was directed to another PFCC 'newbie', a young high school student who went by the most awesome name of Hugo.
Hugo's photo, pictured here, was the winner of the People's Choice award at the recent Auckland Photo Day. A cumulation of votes, not from the judging elite, but from public vote. Our judge tonight, through clear on his personal views, acknowledged the kudos this public vote afforded Hugo's photograph. A bright future ahead for this boy. And a reminder that one judge's opinion is just that.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

How to Warm Up from a Chilly Start

This morning I thought I was mad... up and out the door in the semi darkness at 6:45am on a Saturday for an early morning training session on one of the coldest mornings of the year. 
As I left Leanne's cold-as-?@#$ garage-come-gym (granted, I was well warm by then) I commented on the lovely light that the freezing morning had given rise to, and what a shame it was that I didn't have my camera in the car.
On my drive home, as a reward for my good work, I planned the leisurely morning I felt I deserved, which revolved mostly around hot shower, hot coffee and comfy couch sitting. However when I drove past the local ponds, the frost and mist lured my photographer's eye and I found myself quickly calling in to home to grab my camera, and out to stalk my neighbourhood birdlife once again.
Lurking around the ponds, I patiently waited for birds to swim into the light etc, wishing I had a longer lens... but hey, you make do with what you can afford. As I was leaving, a series of swans and other birds were performing their morning ablutions where the larger pond spilled into the smaller on, creating a lovely reflection of their actions.  I love the 'contortionistic' shapes the swans made as they preened themselves. Far too many of that scene on the memory card, and hard to edit down to favourites.
Well over an hour later I made my way home for that coffee and shower. Despite my sodden feet and the fact I had had the flimsiest of coats on, I didn't feel the cold at all while I was out there. Funny the things that warm you up.