Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

New Zealand: Rough and roughly pyramidal

with 23 comments

Coastal Rockscape 6157

While exploring the shore along Moa Point Rd. near Wellington’s airport on February 20th, I stopped to photograph this rough and roughly pyramidal rock on Fitzroy Bay. Getting to a good vantage point was a little rough as well.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 10, 2015 at 5:29 AM

23 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. …if that’s what it looks like just at the airport, you must be enjoying a continuous eye feast…wow


    May 10, 2015 at 5:37 AM

    • Wellington was founded on a harbor at the base of hills, so in the 20th century, when an airport had to be squeezed in somewhere, people found the relatively flat land needed for it close to the ocean. In fact the runway, which is roughly parallel to the hills on the west side of Wellington, stretches “from sea to shining sea, as you can see in the map at


      The long New Zealand coast was one of my favorite things there, and I stopped at various places along it on both islands. At this point my enjoyment is retrospective because I’ve been back in Austin for 10 weeks, but New Zealand remains bright and clear in my memory.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 10, 2015 at 7:57 AM

  2. My favorite detail is the fringe of growth on the left side of the pyramid. That led me to look more closely, and I found some near the top on the right side, too. All of the plant life seems to be above a certain point. Perhaps it’s taken hold out of the reach of salt spray.

    The contrast between the smooth sea and the frothing water around the rocks reminds me of Wendell Berry’s poem, “The Real Work”:

    It may be that when we no longer know what to do
    we have come to our real work,

    and that when we no longer know which way to go
    we have come to our real journey.

    The mind that is not baffled is not employed.

    The impeded stream is the one that sings.


    May 10, 2015 at 7:54 AM

    • You do have sharp eyes. I noticed the vegetation on the left side but hadn’t paid attention to the bit on the right. There’s also vegetation near the apex and more on the prominent point about 40% of the way down from the apex to the base. In looking at the full-size picture, I didn’t see any vegetation lower than that, so you may well be right the salt spray prevents plants from thriving near the base.

      I’m assuming you heard “The Real Work,” which is excellent and excellently concise, on the Writer’s Almanac three years ago:


      The same broadcast featured Shelley’s comment that “Poetry lifts the veil from the hidden beauty of the world, and makes familiar objects be as if they were not familiar.” That’s also a welcome thought.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 10, 2015 at 8:20 AM

      • Wonderful that this photograph has inspired quotations from Berry and Shelley.

        Susan Scheid

        May 17, 2015 at 7:53 PM

        • Going off on tangents from a photograph is fine with me. (Whatever subject I taught over the decades, I often brought in things from other subjects.) I just noticed that the names of the two poets are somewhat similar.

          Steve Schwartzman

          May 17, 2015 at 8:00 PM

  3. You two are so good with words I can’t think of anything to add~but I’m reminded of studies I learned about that revealed that different species will colonize different zones, both above and below the water line. It had to do with ability to compete as well as ability to tolerate salt and wave action. A balance is struck that affects a whole chain of species, both plant and animal. Those studies were done along our Pacific coast but I would imagine the principle would hold elsewhere. Is the sharpness of these rocks indicative of youth?


    May 10, 2015 at 9:51 AM

    • To your question about whether the sharpness of these rocks is indicative of youth, the thought that popped into my head was “not mine!”, and because of that I was careful crawling around on those sharp rocks. They may indeed be relatively recent, as you plausibly suggest, but I’m afraid I don’t know enough about geology to answer in a non-flippant way. I wish I had more of your knowledge about species colonizing different zones and the consequences that flow from that. I look at scenes mainly as a photographer, so beyond patterns and colors I’m sure I must be failing to appreciate and understand a lot of what I see. For that reason I’m happy for the occasional chance to tag along with an expert.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 10, 2015 at 11:47 AM

      • Me too, I love it when a botanist invites me along. I learn so much more that way than from field guides.


        May 14, 2015 at 8:04 AM

  4. Along the lines of Linda’s comment, I am always amazed at the ability of plants to put down roots in some of the least hospitable places. One wonders at their obvious short-term future but some do manage to have a long life.

    Steve Gingold

    May 10, 2015 at 3:25 PM

    • Not a season goes by that I don’t see plants in sidewalk cracks, holes in rocks, and many another seemingly unlikely place. Tenacious they are.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 10, 2015 at 4:58 PM

  5. This is what makes driving hazardous in New Zealand for photographers. We are always looking around for great photo opportunities when we should be concentrating on the road.

    Raewyn's Photos

    May 10, 2015 at 3:44 PM

    • What made it hazardous for me, or at least seem to be hazardous, was having to drive on the left side of the road. Nevertheless, I drove 2400 km and survived. More to your point, I sometimes saw things I wanted to photograph but wasn’t able to because there was no safe place to pull over. That happens in Texas too, but you have so much more scenery there.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 10, 2015 at 5:59 PM

  6. Looks like a potentially treacherous place to take a step! Beautiful scene.

    Birder's Journey

    May 10, 2015 at 4:38 PM

    • You can see how irregular the surface was, and how many sharp edges there were. Nevertheless, I worked my way along carefully to get to good places to take pictures because I found the place so scenic.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 10, 2015 at 6:04 PM

  7. Steve can you help out on ID for another texas blog? They need help 🙂


    May 10, 2015 at 5:06 PM

  8. That is why New Zealand is at the top of my “Bucket List”.

    • It’s a place I’d wanted to visit for decades, and I finally made it. Let’s hope you will too. I see that there are currently flights from Seattle to Auckland via Hawaii for as little as $1214.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 11, 2015 at 3:43 AM

  9. Whoa! Definitely must have been tricky footing to get that shot!

    Susan Scheid

    May 17, 2015 at 7:51 PM

    • Yes, I moved gingerly here and in some other places by the sea, and fortunately I had no mishaps at all. (Likewise for driving 2400 km on the left side of the road.)

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 17, 2015 at 7:56 PM

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: