The 1953 musical comedy Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, starring Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell, screened at the Auckland Film Festival a few years ago, so I took my mum and daughter along to watch it on the big screen. There is a particular scene where Marilyn and Jane enter the ship’s ballroom and literally bring it to a standstill as they look so stunning. It had the same effect on the movie audience, who actually gasped as they appeared onscreen.
I love the early morning light at Piha, and it is one of my favourite times to take photographs as only a few walkers and surfers are around. Because of the hills behind, the sun only sneaks over about 30 minutes after sunrise, so until then there is this lovely ambient light. One of the things I’m learning about landscape photography is the inclusion of active elements like animals and humans to bring it to life, so I was really chuffed when an early morning swimmer dashed across. I quickly snapped an image and I think this is one of my favourite shots as it gives a great sense of proportion to Lion Rock and the hills behind. My camera is a Nikon D5200 and I have a 16 to 85 DX lens, which I am slowly mastering. It was just on the landscape setting.
When you live somewhere, it is easy to take the scenery for granted or simply never look at it. I was up One Tree Hill trying to do a full moon shot and snapped this one of the Waitakeres as a test shot. When I looked at it today, I was knocked out by what a beautiful city I live in – I am very blessed.
During winter I overcame my dislike of getting out of bed early to take advantage of the full moon setting just before sunrise over Piha. I particularly like this shot of these surfers heading out. The light and colours of the dawn was amazing and well worth leaving my nice warm bed behind!
Soon I will be 50, and it surprises me how fast that age seems to have arrived. As with all lives, I have had a wealth of experiences – fun and foolishness, love and loss, mistakes and right turns, rich and poor. But the hardest experience, and one I think we all shy away from, is the loss of those we love. As I get older, I’m more aware of my own mortality and that of the people I care about. Grief and loss are like so many things, unless you have been through it yourself, it is hard to understand. I was talking to a friend who recently lost her dad in similar circumstances to the way my dad died – a painful slow illness. It is agonising to watch men who have been the big strong guy all your life dying by inches – and it is painful to lose a parent. They are not meant to die, that isn’t the deal, they are meant to live forever.
My friend is now on the first part of the journey of grief that I went through, and it is one of those things that no matter how much advice and comfort we seek from others, it is a road we travel alone.
I was once given some advice by a psychologist that all loss and grieving takes at least four seasons times two. Each season in the first year brings a cue and a memory that we have to face – the first Christmas, the first birthday, the first anniversary of an special event – winter, spring, summer, autumn – all carry a moment and a memory. Then the second year is the beginning of healing – the second time is easier – the loss less painful, the memory special.
Grief is painful and hard – you just want it to end, the tightness in the chest and throat to go away, the sorrow and the tears. But it does go away, and now I understand that it is all part of the process. We grieve because we loved, we cry because it hurts, and as time passes, the memories transform and become not painful but tender and we change with it. It is life.