27 October 2008

A new (photo)blog

I've created a new blog to present some photos in a better format. If you're interested, check out:

...and feel free to comment on the photos. To see the site at its best, press the F11 key — this maximises the window and hides much of the junk at the top of the screen, like the menu bar. Just press F11 again to reveal the hidden junk and restore the window to its former size. The photos are 1024 pixels wide or 750 pixels high, so you're out of luck if your screen's smaller.

Depending on the size of your monitor, you might need to scroll down to get the "Previous photo"/"Next photo" links, and the link to the comments.

A suggestion: before you click on the comments link, consider whether you've thought enough about the photo. Some responses offer intriguing and thoughtful insights, but they'll inevitably influence your own thoughts and feelings, and sometimes you might prefer to ruminate on your own awhile. (Do come back and share the results, though!)

My intention is to post a new photo roughly once per day. In general, I'll avoid posting photos that appear here on PohanginaPeteThe Ruins of the Moment is intended to supplement (or complement) PohanginaPete, not replace it.

"But perhaps this is how this moment should be remembered. A sharp, clear, well-lit photo would create its own memory, a fragment which in time would replace the actual memory of the moment. Perhaps this is the way with all photos. And perhaps it's also the way with all memories—that they're fragmentary: memories are the ruins of the moment."

© 2008 Pete McGregor

24 October 2008

Seven years and a lifetime


When someone you love dies, the world becomes very beautiful.

You see the light—you see it through leaves; sliding through cloud to slip over ridgetops; flickering on water.

You hear air through the wings of kereru and watch them swoop high over the forest, to hang, tip, and fall.

Driving up the valley in the early morning you see a pheasant run across the road; you slow down and as you pass by you see its brilliant, frightened head staring at you from the long wet weeds.

Alone in the mountains you feel the wind on your skin. The same wind carries the sound of the river to you from far below; it fades and the sun goes behind a cloud.

These things become the most important things in the world. You wonder what they mean and decide you can’t make sense of anything.

This is what happens when someone you love dies.

1. Pheasant trying to hide. Countryside near Bristol, UK, 2007. I only got one chance for the photo, at ISO 1600, and ended up with a blurry and overexposed image. After some heavy post-processing I decided this would do. Sometimes technical quality isn't crucial.

Photo and words © 2008 Pete McGregor

16 October 2008

The road to Whanganui

Fencepost, Pohangina Valley
At 7 p.m. Jacobs' Ladders reach down from the western cloud, the sun still only two thirds of the way on its journey down towards the horizon. A row of thin, wind-gnarled macrocarpas on a long, slow slope; silhouettes against golden light. I should stop and reach for the camera.
Then the vision's gone; the road dips into a dull, low valley.
Plastic flowers, yellow and orange and pink; plastic flowers bright in a pile against a fencepost, bright in the fading evening, bright against the dull green grass, the long grass rising to smother the marker, the reminder — this is where someone's life ended. A moment of realisation.
Then impact.
Then the world carries on.
A pair of ducks speeds over a green paddock where a brown bull grazes; an irregular patch of bright sunlight slides over the hills; a sunbeam slips through a gap in an old shed and illuminates a dusty jar of old nails on an age-grimed bench. Plovers harass a kahu, wind ripples the surface of a small pond behind a farm dam. Old fencepost, Pohangina ValleyBeside a fallen macrocarpa, dry and bleached, a rabbit stretches to nibble then sits up at the sound of a distant four-wheeler. Low sun shines through the rabbit's ears.
The world carries on. Someone places plastic flowers which fade slowly as the months and years pass. The brown bull goes to market and is sold, minced with god-knows-what and extruded into plastic tubing, as dog roll. Someone shoots the rabbit. A farmer chainsaws the fallen macrocarpa into a winter's supply of firewood and listens as it crackles and sparks on cold evenings. New generations of ducks fly over the green paddock, unaware of their ancestors who flew over that same paddock on that particular evening.
Someone drives past plastic flowers leaning against a fencepost on the road to Whanganui, on an evening when Jacobs' Ladders reach down from the sky. The world carries on.
I should stop and reach for the camera, but the moment's gone.

1. The "Wh" in Whanganui in this area is pronounced approximately like "W", not as "F"; thus, "Whanganui" sounds much like "Wanganui", which is the more common spelling.
2. The birds: Plovers — spur-winged plover, Vanellus miles novaehollandiae; kahu — Australasian harrier, Circus approximans. The ducks were probably mallards.
3. Macrocarpa — Cupressus macrocarpa. Harry Ricketts has written a most informative and entertaining piece about macrocarpas in Thirteen ways of starting a New Zealand novel called macrocarpa. Do check it out.
1 & 2. Pohangina valley fenceposts. Out in front of my place, on the edge of the terrace.

Photos and words © 2008 Pete McGregor