Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

New Zealand: Doubtless Bay

with 30 comments

A year ago today we followed State Highway 10 along the south shore of Doubtless Bay in New Zealand’s Northland. One spot where I stopped to take pictures was Coopers Beach.

The prominent trees on the promontory are pōhutukawas (Metrosideros excelsa). Facing in the opposite direction, I concentrated on the intricate roots of one at the non-sea edge of the beach:

If you’d like, you can see Austin’s answer to those pōhutukawa roots.

The image which comes next reveals a brook that cut and curved its way across the beach till Doubtless Bay became its place to cease to flow:

The best colors and textures I found along Doubtless Bay were a few minutes farther west in the area called Cable Bay:

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 13, 2018 at 4:53 AM

30 Responses

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  1. Beautiful travelogue pictures, Steve!


    February 13, 2018 at 6:50 AM

  2. That appears to be moss covering the rocks in the first photo, but whatever it is, it’s quite appealing. It’s hard to make rocks seem soft, but it does. I smiled at the six small trees on the left, with the larger one inclined toward them. They remind me of students on a field trip, with the inevitable straggler bringing up the rear.

    The last photo’s a puzzler. I keep looking at the “wrinkled” water in the upper right, and can’t figure out what’s going on. If the black rock (or whatever) were blocking water flowing across the sand, it wouldn’t look like that. It’s such a distinct patch — it’s just odd. Could it have to do with tides? I see there are collections of sand atop the lichen-covered rocks, too. It could have been washed up or blown up there: hard to say.

    There’s no need to go to Mars to find a strange, entrancing world, that’s for sure.


    February 13, 2018 at 7:12 AM

    • Given the scale in the first picture, I don’t think the green can be moss. It must have been low vegetation but I couldn’t tell you what sort. Leave it to you to think of schoolkids and an adult monitor.

      I hadn’t noticed the strange area in the upper right of the fourth photo. I went back to the full-size original and… it wasn’t there. Next I checked the smaller tif version I’d made from the full-sized one: again the anomaly wasn’t there. Then I checked the jpg I’d made from the the tif, and finally the anomaly appeared. My assumption was that something in the jpg algorithm went awry. I re-saved the tif as a jpg just now and the anomaly didn’t appear. I’ll probably never know what caused the glitch. As more and more of our records are stored digitally, just think about the potential for incorrect information—and that’s even without including purposeful alterations made to distort or erase things.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 13, 2018 at 8:00 AM

  3. I’m quite familiar with these brooks that form along the beach coasts. I lived by the ocean for many years. In one beach the brook actually led to a river. In other beaches brooks would start forming for no apparent reason. They seemed to form from drastic changes in ocean tides.


    February 13, 2018 at 7:39 AM

    • Like my wife, who grew up a few minutes’ walk from a large strait off the Pacific in the Philippines, you’re fortunate to have lived by the ocean for many years. What you say about brooks forming for no apparent reason is interesting. I wonder if scientists have studied that. If not, it’s an opportunity for an enterprising graduate student in need of a topic for a thesis or dissertation.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 13, 2018 at 8:11 AM

  4. Your third image could easily be Cornwall where lots of streams/rivers carve a route out to sea. Looking at the exposed tree roots make you realise why it is so difficult to plant anything under a tree!


    February 13, 2018 at 9:13 AM

    • Still another reason to visit Cornwall, then.

      You’re right about trees keeping other plants out. Here in central Texas the Ashe junipers are notorious for forming large stands where almost no other plants manage to take hold.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 13, 2018 at 9:19 AM

  5. What a marvelous group of photos. The first is just so beautiful, and of course I love the one with the roots. The river reminds me of the Dead River at Illinois Beach State Park.
    Speaking of trees, it has been learned that the invasive buckthorn that we struggle with here secretes a toxic chemical into the soil. It not only kills vegetation around it, it even kills our increasingly rare amphibians! 😦


    February 13, 2018 at 10:02 AM

    • I’m glad you took us to the Dead River so I can understand the resemblance you’re seeing between it flowing into Lake Michigan and this New Zealand stream emptying into the Pacific Ocean.

      In the opposite direction, I’m sorry to hear about the invasive buckthorn with chemicals that deter not only vegetation but even amphibians.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 13, 2018 at 1:03 PM

      • It was a shock when we learned that, and were are redoubling our efforts to control it. For a friend’s birthday recently all he wanted was for a ring of buckthorn to be removed from his favorite oak in a preserve by his house. So a bunch of us did just that, and then we partied at his house. That was pretty great, to see his expression when he saw his oak liberated.


        February 14, 2018 at 9:01 AM

        • So first came the oak’s liberation
          And then the work crew’s celebration.

          Steve Schwartzman

          February 14, 2018 at 12:36 PM

          • With plenty of libation.


            February 15, 2018 at 9:16 AM

            • Which must have led to ovation.

              Steve Schwartzman

              February 15, 2018 at 9:25 AM

              • It did, in fact 🙂 I’m not much for parties or libations but this one was fun because it was my tribe of artists and biologists, lots of good conversation and no drunkenness.


                February 16, 2018 at 9:01 AM

                • The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in Austin occasionally hosts artists who specialize in biological (and of course particularly botanical) subjects. Your tribe indeed.

                  Steve Schwartzman

                  February 16, 2018 at 9:06 AM

                • Do they really? I should inquire about a residency. I’m planning to apply for one in Asheville, NC. Looks like 2018 is already spoken for which is fine because that gives me time to plan. That seems like an exciting and doable way to travel the country.


                  February 19, 2018 at 10:20 AM

                • By “host” I meant that the Wildflower Center puts on art exhibits and book signings. I don’t know if they offer residencies, but there’s no harm in asking.

                  Steve Schwartzman

                  February 19, 2018 at 11:15 AM

  6. Beautiful images, Steve! I love the gnarly, snake-like tree roots.

    Lavinia Ross

    February 13, 2018 at 12:25 PM

  7. It is something like the cypress on Cypress Point in Monterey County.


    February 14, 2018 at 11:50 PM

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