Thursday, February 27, 2014

Now with air support

Okay, I can now confess that I've bought a quadracopter so I can take images from the air. It's not about the gear, really. It's about getting another perspective on things. So with that in mind, enjoy these fresh perspectives on a favourite Dunedin landmark, Larnach Castle.

Larnach Castle

Larnach Castle, Dunedin NZ

Friday, February 21, 2014

Adventures in Arrowtown

Another little project finished for an Arrowtown client, Adin May of Southern Explorer. I was especially pleased with the feedback on this job because Adin thought I told his story very well considering I only had a half day to shoot this.  

Stills or video.  I am all about the story.


Monday, January 13, 2014

Video for Arrowtown Bike Hire

I was doing a little work around Arrowtown before Christmas with my assistant Joe. Finally put my little camera jib to good use on this shoot. Here's one of the results, a little video for Arrowtown Bike Hire. Enjoy!

If you should happen to see a rugby ball however, click on the title of this post to take you to the correct clip.  There seems to be something mighty strange going on between Blogger and my video host that changes the video links on the generic blog URL.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Seeking the Source

The fish weren't biting or at least the ones that were were so small as not to bother about sticking around for, so I decided to head for the old Dunstan road with my cameras and explore a place I'd been meaning to for a while: Te Papanui Conservation park.  This is one of the high points: Ailsa Crag, 1135 m high.  From here you can see into the Strath Taieri region (on the right) and above it off to the left (west) is the Old Man range, old Dunstan road and Great Moss Swamp.

Ailsa Crag

It's a vast, unmodified tussock grassland, and a beautiful example of one.

Te Papanui tarn

Since I'd already spent much of the day unsuccessfully seeking trout, I didn't have time for anything other than a quick visit to some tarns.

Te Papanui tarn Te Papanui tarn

These are beautiful bodies of water, sitting in peat bogs and surrounded by a fantastic range of wetland plants.  Next time, I'll definitely pack the macro lens.


This area is the source of much of Dunedin's drinking water as it trickles over tussocks, through peat and down into the streams where it is captured and piped 65 Km to the city for treatment to remove the organic matter and remove microorganisms.

After just a couple of hours, I decided I had to return another time to do the place justice, and reluctantly headed back down the hill.  (okay, not completely reluctantly, the evening rise was approaching and I was planning on visiting another stream on the way home).  Then I spied something curious down the hill:


A lonely telephone (or telegraph) pole. Practically in the middle of nowhere.  I couldn't resist departing from the track home and taking a side track to satisfy my curiousity.  Glad I did.  I discovered a hut.

Deep Creek hut

That's the view to the southeast. More interestingly, I discovered this.

Deep Creek Telemetry station

A telemetry station, presumably the replacement for what used to be attached to the old line.  Then it dawned on me: I was near the source of the Deep Creek water intake.  Just below the telemetry station, I found a gorge with the pipeline and walkway clinging to the steep sides.

Deep Creek

The fish could wait.  I had to see more, so wandered a little further.  Here's the view from the track in the middle of the face above, looking back down the gorge:

Deep Creek - looking downstream

The original pipeline was put here in 1936, but was upgraded several years ago, along with some improvements to the path.  It's narrow and there are some very sheer drops below to the water, but the boardwalk sections are well constructed and the protective railing is nice and sturdy.

Deep Creek pipeline

Deep Creek

I didn't get all the way up to the weir and water intake at the head of the gorge.  Like the further exploration of the wetlands above, it can provide another day's adventure.  Further downstream, the mayflies were starting to rise and the trout were waiting.

Monday, December 2, 2013

On The Ball

_MG_8310.jpg Delivered our little micromentary series on Leslie Rugby last week. It's going to be shown at Toitu Otago Settlers Museum as part of a temporary exhibit regarding the Leslie Ball and business. So as well as the ball, we told the story of John making the transition from professional rugby player into rugby business owner, as well as Leslie Rugby Kids Coaching Clinics, which really are all about the future of rugby, and a way for John to give something back to the sport he loves, at grass roots level.

So here's part 1:

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Just When I Thought I Was Out...

...they pull me back in.

But it was an offer I couldn't refuse.


I'm working (along with my assistant Joe Gallagher) on another video project. You can tell because I'm wearing the compulsory director's cap.

This time it's for Leslie Rugby, and has given me the chance to work as part of another great team, including Tony Young, the drone helo camera operator in the middle of the photo above. That's Highlanders first five Hayden Parker at the kicking tee. We're shooting some aerials of rugby action.

It's also fun to work alongside John Leslie.  If you didn't already know, John was captain of the Otago rugby team during its golden age, the time of Tony Brown, Josh Kronfeld, Jeff Wilson and Marc Ellis to name just a happy few. John went on to play for Scotland, Northampton Saints and Newcastle Falcons and is the world record holder for the fastest try in test rugby (10 seconds).

Our first shoot was a little interview with John down at ForBarr Stadium.  Unfortunately the posts weren't up so we couldn't film the kicking sequence there.  But it didn't stop us having just a little fun on the paddock.

Leslie Rugby is aimed at serving the game at grass roots level, and from what I've seen, it's going to have a growing influence on the sport in this country, especially via the Kids Coaching Clinics. John says he has gotten so much from rugby that he's driven to give something back via coaching.  Below are a few a few shots of John passing on some of his skills as a contribution to Grants Braes primary school Gala day.  You can see the kids technique change before your eyes. It's remarkable.


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Watch this space, John is molding future All Blacks.

John is applying his passion for rugby into his business and it's a great pleasure to help him get the word out. He's also a great client, coming up with some very good contributions and trusting us to do what we do best, which is tell stories.  The only hard part is deciding what to leave out.

That my friends, is a very good place to be.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Inside Macraes Mine


Take the road known as the Pig Root inland from Palmerston and you'll find yourself approaching a tiny township known as Dunback. Climb Dunback Hill to the southwest and you'll find yourself in as pretty a piece of high country as you'll find. I found myself in a perfect ten minute window up here when the wind dropped and the sun warmed my shoulders. Tussocks whispered. A fleeting, perfect moment, there and then gone. A singularity in a universe of time.

Continue along Macraes Road and you'll find the landscape transformed.


Over the last 24 or so years, kilotons of Ammonium nitrate explosive and millions of dollars of heavy machinery have created the massive network of pits and shafts that make up Oceana Gold's Macraes mine.


To say it's big is a ridiculous understatement.  You just can't get it from the road and you still don't get how large the operation is from the public viewing platform.  You can only start to get your head around how big it all is when you enter the mine as I did, to take some pictures of the big Hitachi EX3600 digger for a client a few weeks back.


Once I got the shots I needed, I was lucky to be taken on a brief tour by my minder.  It was mind blowing. The scale of the place is massive, and you only just comprehend it when you get up close to the machinery.  This is the Caterpillar 789D, a 78 litre turbo diesel truck with a 2,000 litre fuel tank and 200 tonne carrying capacity.



The Macraes mine operates around the clock, blasting, digging and hauling rock, to dump the waste in terraced mountain ranges.  The gold is extracted from the rock in a chemical process using cyanide. This is the processing plant, sitting among massive man-made terraces of spoil:


Of course the deep pits will fill with water if allowed to, so it's pumped out, and along with some of the waste from the extraction process, forms shallow lakes in this strange sculpted landscape.


I have to admit I had mixed reactions to all of this. My first was the Tonka Toy boy's thing. Excitement about being around these great machines and the works of man. Then of course, a kind of despair at what had been done to the land here in such a short space of time. But then I discovered there had been mining in this spot for well over 100 years.  Keep taking the road past the processing plant and you come to a delightful little historic reserve known as Golden Point.  You can see the vapours from the nearby plant up on the hill above.


From 1891 to 1936, 70,000 tons of scheelite (tungsten ore) and 13,000 ounces of gold were taken from Golden Point. Compare that to the approximate 500oz Oceana Gold gets from 14,250 ton of ore every day.

The workers lived on site, in a collection of sod cottages and other dwellings. The process of mining wasn't too dissimilar to that of today. The ore was blasted and hauled out from shafts, water was piped in to drive stamping batteries, and the gold was extracted by the same chemical process from the crushed rock.

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Because of the ore types and extractive methods used, plenty of New Zealand's old gold mining areas have water contamination issues... sometimes mercury, sometimes cyanide.  They're great places to visit, but you should be careful about drinking the water.


Will Macraes be as delightful in 100 years time?  They are undertaking landforming works with the spoil, but I have to say for now the terraced earth sculptures look odd in the otherwise folded landscape. Maybe that will improve with more vegetation. I just hope the groundwater is protected from contamination.  This is the catchment for the Shag river. Economy versus environment... same old battle.  How much of our environment are we willing to modify to maintain our standard of living?  The only thing that's certain is that one day, many, many years from now, no matter what we do, the earth will recover. But in all likelihood, we'll be gone. The planet sustains us, but like the trilobites and the ammonites and the dinosaurs, it doesn't care about us. It just moves on. And one day, just like all of us, it too will be gone. Another singularity in an infinite universe.