Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Helen - captured moments 2006 - 2009

Helen and My Daddy's Tuff, Bright's Farm, November 2006
Helen and My Daddy's Tuff, Bright's Farm, November 2006

Helen and My Daddy's Tuff, Waitarere, January 2007
Helen and My Daddy's Tuff, Waitarere, January 2007

Helen and My Daddy's Tuff, Waitohu, March 2007
Helen and My Daddy's Tuff, Waitohu, March 2007

Helen and Evo Supremo, Karapoti, November 2007
Helen and Evo Supremo, Karapoti, November 2007

Helen and Evo Supremo, Waitarere Endurance, January 2008
Helen and Evo Supremo, Waitarere Endurance, January 2008

Helen and Evo Supremo, Tinui, September 2008
Helen and Evo Supremo, Tinui, September 2008

Helen and Evo Supremo, National Endurance Championships, Whareama, April 2009
Helen and Evo Supremo, National Endurance Championships, Whareama, April 2009

Helen and Evo Supremo, National Endurance Championships, Whareama, April 2009
Helen and Evo Supremo, National Endurance Championships, Whareama, April 2009

Helen Bain

It is with great sadness and not a little shock that we learn today of the untimely death of Helen Bain. Helen drowned on December 29 while crossing the Ruamahanga River on horseback near Masterton. Despite the heroic efforts of companions to rescue her from the river, Helen could not be revived.

Tributes to her work as a journalist have been published online in Stuff, and for her role as Communications Manager for Forest and Bird.

In the worlds of CTR and Endurance, Helen was an active member of the Wairarapa Endurance and CTR Club, a past member of WATRC, and a stalwart in the organisation of Island and National Championships events. She has done much to promote both sports by contributing pieces to various horsey magazines, and was an active and respected participant in HorseTalk forums.

Our heartfelt sympathies go to her partner, Mark, her family and friends, work colleagues, and fellow club members and competitors. We all feel her loss dearly.

Helen Bain on Evo Supremo, Karapoti, November 2007
Helen and Evo, Karapoti, November 2007

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Prize Winners from Battle Hill on Flickr

Of course some of you have already noticed the additional photos, but in case others were waiting on an announcement, this is it.

I've taken the opportunity to try something a little different with the photos page. When I look at other sites' photos pages, they generally have photos on them, and occasionally (rarely) I've included some in ours. It seemed to me that our page looked a little drab in comparison, so I've made a token effort to change the look.

The images are still hosted on Flickr, but presented on our pages. Each event will continue to have a text linked to the set, and now a "thumbnail" sized copy of the cover image for the set in its original format. The image will also link to the set in the same way as the text, so you can click either on the text or the image but the result should be the same - a new window or tab should open on the Flickr set.

For the Battle Hill prize winners spread (1st placed competitors) I've used Flickr's "small" image size, but in these cases the underlying link is to the image in its place in the photostream. You can navigate to the set within Flickr quite easily. It was the lift these images gave the page that made me think about doing something similar for the other events, but I'm conscious of the impact the increased data transfer may have on dial-up and rural users, so I won't take it much further than I have.

Anyway, photos-wise, that's a wrap for this calendar year. We're just waiting now to add the published results from Battle Hill to the site, and we can take a break for Xmas.

On that note, we wish you a safe and happy Xmas and New Year, and look forward to seeing you all back at Manukau Dairy Farm in January.

Monday, 14 December 2009

Battle Hill Ride photos uploading

Once again this will be an over-night upload with finishing applied to the set on Tuesday. Just the ride photos to start with - over the next day or two I'll go through the prize winners shots and select from those for another smaller set and a small photos page spread.

The set can be viewed from link on the club photo page or directly

Friday, 20 November 2009

Maymorn Photos Uploading

Finally caught up with my backlog - a little faster than anticipated too. With a smaller turn-out for Maymorn I had less shots to review, so have been able to get through them in good time. They're uploading as I write and should finish some time around 1:00 am on Saturday morning. I'll do the usual finishing work on the set during the day.

I have to say the conditions on the day were a little trying with heavy overcast and some strong wind gusts to contend with. In response to the lower light I've had to shoot a lot of the time at wide open apertures with shallow depth of field being the inevitable result. That just means that sometimes your horse's head may be sharp in focus, but you might be a little soft - or the other way around. You probably won't notice unless you blow the image up to full-size, but if you intend to print any pictures it might pay to inspect the images closely before making your final decision.

I'm pleased to report that my blisters are callousing up nicely. I always enjoy my walks, but sometimes I push the envelope a little farther than I should ;-) Very glad to have a couple of weekends respite before Battle Hill, another challenging venue.

If you haven't seen them already, the Maymorn results are now posted, and the latest newsletter features the flyer for Battle Hill and the Rhona Fraser Challenge events, the last ride of the pre-Xmas half of our season.

Hope to see you all there and snap you on the trail.

Monday, 16 November 2009

Wainuiomata Photos uploading

The Wainuiomata set is uploading now and should complete some time in the small hours of Tuesday. I'll put the finishing touches to it some time on Tuesday either before work or after.

Leaving ahead of the briefing meant the change to the trail took me by surprise, and so I ended up doing the inner loop ahead of most of the field. If you didn't overtake me on the trail, you missed me, and I didn't get a picture of you. As you know, I work to a timetable and try to be back at base in time to assist with Dove's strapping and final vetting.

Despite a spotty forecast, the day turned out very well. Some of the early photos were under slightly difficult lighting due to the overcast, and look a bit fuzzy under close inspection, but as the day wore on and the light improved I got some sharper shots. There are some nice sequences of some riders.

I've barely looked at the Maymorn shots as yet. I'll get on to those next, but I have some other committments that will divert my attention this week, so the next set may be a little bit later than usual. It will however be a smaller set, like the Wainui one. Although I think I got shots of everyone, the smaller field means I took less shots overall. Again, overcast and sometimes "breezy" conditions were a challenge but I'm hopeful there will be some pleasing results.

And thank goodness for a break until the next event - my feet are killing me. My mission on the day was to get a look at the tunnel - I've only ever gone as far as the ford before, and the tunnel was not much further. Unfortunately, as I was reading the details on the sign on the other side, my connections on horseback turn up - dang!

So the downside of that little excursion was having to get back to base in a hurry. After battling the head wind and slogging up the hill I had to jog the downhill bits to catch up and keep up. I ended up over-taking some competitors as a result. Anyway, my connections arrived back 2 minutes early - serves them right really ;-)

As for me, I was on time and my heart rate at the end was OK, but a vet out lame was definitely on the cards ;-)

See you all at Battle Hill.

Monday, 9 November 2009

Waikawa results published - photos uploading

Hard on the heels of the just published results from Waikawa, we have the photos now uploading to Flickr. This is going to proceed over-night Monday, hopefully without crashing, and with luck will be complete by morning. I'll probably do the finishing work on the set on Tuesday evening.

Everyone loves a beach ride - especially the photographer. I should apologise for the size of the set and explain why it's so large. At 598 images, it's my biggest set by just one. The problem of course is the beach - I can see riders coming from far off and I can position myself to get many more shots of each rider as they approach and pass. Often this is not so easy on some of our more confined trails.

That of course is also the reason for the delay - with a huge amount of raw material, it takes longer to select the shots.

One other consequence, which I hope you'll like, is the opportunity to put together longer sequences of shots, showing the horse in its paces. If I have good sequences, I like to use them in the set. And of course, the out-and-back structure of the course means most riders passed me at least twice, so we got a second chance to take some shots.

With 3 rides on successive weekends, I am of course losing ground. I'm just preparing my backups of the Wainui shots and will start selecting on Tuesday or Wednesday evening depending on other committments. Although it was a smaller ride and I got less shots, I doubt I'll have the set ready before Maymorn, so please bear with me.

And if I missed you at Wainui (I know I beat some of you around the course ;-) then make sure you're at Maymorn - another out-and-back that pretty much guarantees we'll meet!

See you there.

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Newsletter 126 published

The latest newsletter has been emailed and is now posted on the website.

Do check it out - ride flyers for the rescheduled Waikawa Beach ride (1 Nov) and Wainuiomata ride (8 Nov) are incorporated, along with the rescheduled Maymorn ride (15 Nov). As we've said already, November is going to be a very busy month, weather permitting.

Note that the Waikawa ride has been brought forward a half hour (first rider out at 1:30 pm) to take advantage of the earlier low tide - indeed the two week delay has meant we now avoid the worst of the spring tide that was close to the prevously scheduled date.

So much nautical science required for equestrian sports - who knew ?

Monday, 19 October 2009

Waikawa Beach - resheduled for 1 November

There's been some fast re-organising going on behind the scenes as your dedicated committee try to salvage something from our so far soggy Spring riding season.

Waikawa Beach has now been rescheduled to 1 November.
Wainuiomata remains as originally scheduled, on 8 November.
Maymorn remains rescheduled for 15 November as previously advised.
Again, a busy three weekends on the trot.

However, mercifully, the Brights Farm ride, scheduled for 22 November has now been cancelled. Don't worry, you'll still get a crack at it in February as part of the premier points competition.

See the calendar for details

Sunday, 18 October 2009

Maymorn Rescheduled - now 15 November

We've just had confirmation that the Maymorn ride is on again (weather permitting, of course) and has been reschdeuled to 15 November. Assuming everything else stays on track, it's going to be a busy three weekends, with Wainuiomata on the 8th, Maymorn on the 15th, and Brights Farm on the 22nd.

No word as yet regarding reschedule of the Waikawa Beach ride - let's hope for a stunning "go-to-the-beach" day for that one. As soon as we have news, we'll let you know.

Friday, 16 October 2009

Waikawa Beach Ride Postponed

It seems the weather remains resolutely against us, and again we've had to cancel a ride. It's not so much that the weather is looking a bit dodgey for Sunday (it is) but the amount of rain that we've had in the last weeks, and the expected dump in the Tararuas for tomorrow.

With that kind of precipitation, rivers are going to be up, and combined with a spring tide we don't want to be putting riders or mounts in harm's way. Those of you familiar with the course know that there are two river crossings, and those who are familiar with the photos from the 2007 ride will know what it's like when we get the tides wrong - trust us, you don't want that ;-)

We hope to be able to re-schedule this ride (tentatively 1 November, pending discussions with our venue hosts), but if that doesn't work out then Wainuiomata on 8 November is the next scheduled ride. As soon as we have an update we'll post it.

Friday, 9 October 2009

Maymorn Ride Postponed

We love our ride venues - we hate to say cancelled - but in effect that's what it is.

With the parking area very soggy and no way it will drain and dry out in time for Sunday, along with high waters in the river and creeks, the Regional Park Ranger has asked that we postpone this Sunday's ride.

So, Maymorn is off until we can find a new spot to fit it back into our calendar.

Sorry about that - stay warm and dry

See you at Waikawa Beach on Sunday 18 October

Waitarere Photos uploading now

At last - sorry for the delay - it's a busy ol' life and I've had to snatch a few hours here and there to do the selections. Thank goodness for sick days - shame about the sick part of it :-(

Also I apologise to those who commenced their ride after 11:10 am - I have to work to a timetable as I have strapping, trot-out, and general gopher duties back at the base at the end of Leslie's ride. If you saw me on the trail, there'll be a photo (or two) of you somewhere in the set. Otherwise, enjoy the snaps of your fellow competitors, and aim for an earlier start next time ;-)

What a great day it was nonetheless - dead lucky with the weather. I was warned of water on the trail as I set out, but it had all drained away over-night and good going under-foot for horses and photographers was assured.

The Waitarere forest produced it's usual challenges with low light in the trees and high contrast in the places where the light broke through. High ISO ratings, slower shutter and wider apertures tend to produce a little more "noise" and blurring, but overall I'm pleased with the results. I hope you will be too.

The set is uploading as I write this - the final count will be 373, so if it's not complete when you look at it, give it a while and come back a bit later. I'll monitor it during the evening so that, fingers crossed it will be completed tonight - with a set that size there are usually a few breakdowns on the information highway to contend with ;-)

If you haven't already seen them, the results are on the website, along with Newsletter 125

News just to hand - due to the amount of rain we've had, the grounds at Maymorn are very soggy and the creeks and rivers are up. Accordingly, we've postponed the Maymorn ride.

I'll be updating the website calendar shortly

So - start planning instead for the Waikawa Beach ride on Sunday 18 October, and we'll hope to see you there.

Thursday, 30 July 2009

Draft ride calendar released with first newsletter of the 2009 / 2010 season

That's it folks - holiday's over - get those beasties out on the trail again!

The committee has released a draft calendar for the coming season and it's time to get back in training.

Newsletter 123 has now been published and posted, and includes a list of the prize winners from last season.

Annual membership fees are now due - complete a membership form, post your cheque, and it's done.

Also, the club needs an entries person, so if you could fill this very important role, see the flyer and get in touch.

Don't forget the quiz night this Saturday - if you've lost the flyer that was emailed back in June, here it is.

See you there

Saturday, 25 April 2009

Belmont Regional Park gets a promo in Schmap

Schmap is a publisher of digital travel guides for destinations throughout the United States, Europe, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. It can be browsed online, and has versions optimized for iPhone and Nokia users. You can learn about it on the Schmap website.

Why mention this ? Well, the publishers of the Wellington guide asked if they could use a photo from a WATRC event, and chose one from the recent Belmont Regional Park ride. You can see the guide entry here. Look for a shot from our event in the set of four photos associated with the entry.

Schmap presents information from a variety of sources, including Google Maps and Flickr. Clicking on the image takes the viewer back into the image in Flickr, where I've added a link back to the WATRC website and other Belmont sets.

Monday, 13 April 2009

Check the April 2009 Sportaloosa Quarterly - see "Miss Autumn" ;-)

A few weeks ago, I received a request for the use of a photo from a member of one of the HorseTalk forums. The contact turned out to be one of the publishers of the website and quarterly online magazine of a non profit organisation that promotes spotted breeds as sport horses (therefore, "Sportaloosa"), and they were looking for a suitable cover photo for their second magazine.

The request arose after Leslie had posted a favorite picture of Dove from the Waikawa Beach ride to the HorseTalk forum.

We were rapt to receive today a link to the latest Sportaloosa Quarterly, a short online magazine downloadable for free as a PDF file. No prize for guessing who is the latest "cover-girl". It being a quarterly magazine and this being the April edition, in our household at least Dove has been temporarily dubbed "Miss Autumn" (which is probably better than "Miss Fall" as she might be were it October and this the northern hemisphere ;-)

Anyway, the terms of use of the image was an attribution for the photographer by name with a URL to the WATRC website, so with luck the club will benefit from some additional exposure.

For those of you with spotted horses, whether purebred Appaloosa or Knabstrupper, or an out-cross with spots, take some time to check out the Sportaloosa website.

Thursday, 9 April 2009

Bulls Championship photos on Flickr

Put on a spurt last night and burned some midnight oil to complete the first cut edit of the Bulls set. Concluded that with care-giving for Leslie including a vist to the hospital today and the likelihood of new cast being fitted, plus the need to pack myself up and get to the Wairarapa for the Endurance National Champs, a second go-through was not really on the cards.

So, they're up - a little bit raw still, but it's done.

What a great venue we have at Bulls. Without the support of the land-owners we would not have access to such a range of fabulous trails, and we're very grateful for their willingness to open their properties to the club.

Great job all the organisers, officials, and helpers. A well marked course and a well run event. It's too easy to just not notice the work that goes into a sporting club event but I'm sure our competitors all apreciate what makes a successful event.

I had a fine walk and there were lots of photo opportunities. Also, the earlier start meant some of the first shots of the day got the benefit of some wonderful morning light, and I'm particularly pleased with some of the backlit shots that catch highlights around horses and riders. While shooting in that light has it's challenges and none of those photos are technically perfect, the effect is stunning, and it's the impact that matters.

I hope you enjoy them

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Championships Results, Turakina Flyer and Newsletter 121 online

Results from the Championships ride at Bulls were emailed today and are downloadable from the results page. The latest newsletter came out at the same time and can be downloaded from the news page.

Shortly afterwards a ride flyer for Turakina was published and contains some important updates relating to entries. Please refer to the flyer on the calendar page rather than the details in the newsletter.

Photos from Bulls are not available yet - I'm still editing the set, but hoping I may be able to upload on Thursday before heading over to the Endurance Championships hosted by the Wairarapa club at Whareama. If I can't make that deadline it will unfortunately not be until after Easter.

Friday, 20 March 2009

Waitohu Photos uploading - results on the WATRC site

It's great to have finally caught up on the backlog of photos. Waitohu is uploading now, and all going well, I'll be able to put the finishing touches to the set in the morning. You can get to the set through the photos page as usual.

Results were out today for Belmont and Waitohu, and are now on the results page.

We're looking forward to the club championships at Bulls. It's a great venue and ideal terrain for a championship event.

Waitohu was a challenge for me, photographically because of the amount of forestry. In a mature but well maintained forestry block you have low light areas that are often mottled with very bright areas where the sun is able to break through. The smaller patches of very bright light amongst otherwise quite dull areas make it more difficult to get exposures correct.

Compensating for low light without flash means sacrificing some quality in the image to get the picture, and close examination of the shots taken under those conditions will reveal the speckling of the image that comes from using a "fast" sensor setting (eg. ISO 1600) and the fuzziness that comes from the blurring of moving subjects at low shutter speeds, or in elements of the picture that are not within the compressed "in focus" range that results from wide apertures.

I guess you could say that was my own fault - I could have kept to the open areas of the trail and minimised the time spent in the forest. However, I had a very good walk so can look forward to planning next year's outing with much better knowledge of the trail than I've had to date.

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Photos from Waikawa Beach uploading

It's certainly been a marathon editing session with the Waikawa Beach set and not without it's challenges, as I'm sure you know. I've concluded that rather than reviewing and re-reviewing the set, given the delays so far, I'm better to get it on-line and move on to the next event. So, here it is, or at least, here it comes.

It's a bigger than usual set, but then, Waikawa Beach provided exceptional photo opportunities. I usually take a number of shots of each rider at each encounter in the trail, and select what I hope are the best from each. This time, with riders clearly visible from a distance there was opportunity to take longer sequences of shots, and some of you will find yourselves quite heavily featured in a sequence, or even two.

It's going to take most of this evening (Wednesday) to complete the uploads, and the set remains in a partially completed state for most of that period. However, if you just can't wait, you can monitor the photostream during the upload, and a simple browser refresh will show you whatever is new - it's taking about 30 - 60 seconds to upload an image.

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Aaaaarrrrgggghhh @#$%^&* !!!

Please forgive the language -some days it's the only appropriate response to events ;-)

I've been grinding away at editing the Waikawa Beach photo set, trying to judge when to apologise for my tardiness, and finally the time has arrived. Unfortunately, it's not one of those "but won't be long now" scenarios.

You may as well have the whole story.

Waikawa Beach, being an "out and back" ride starting at the trail's mid-point, is one of those WATRC rides where a well placed photographer gets to see all the riders multiple times. It's probably fair to say that being a wide open space with few hiding places, the riders get to see the photographer several times too, and from far enough off that a decision to up the pace and fun level in front of the camera is more temptation than many can resist (and good-on-ya ;-)

The upshot is a huge amount of raw material (probably twice as many shots as I've had from even the largest ride before) and a massive editing job to get them into a manageable set for uploading. There I am then, just approaching halfway through and feeling good about the results so far, but conscious that it's taking longer than I'd like ...

... and the laptop dies. Hence the scream and profanities.

All is not lost - I still have backups of all the unedited photos on my my main computer, and I'm backing them up to another as I write this. The loss is in the work and time spent so far. For me, editing consists mainly of selecting the best photos and deleting those that don't make the cut. Chances are everything to date is still there on the laptop's disk drive, but in the time it will take to get that fixed, I might as well start over.

So - deepest apologies - yes, the Waikawa photos will be available, but good things take time and it won't happen overnight.

Sunday, 15 February 2009

Newsletter 118, Manakau Farm results and photos

Newsletter 118 and the Manakau Farm results were emailed today and have now been posted on the website. Manakau farm had another very large turnout and was a very popular venue. We hope to be able to use it again in future and extend the range of trails available.

The newsletter further clarifies the qualification criteria for the club championships event to be held at Bulls on 29 March, but unfortunately contained an inadvertant error that was corrected in a subsequent email. The corrected information has been placed in the website Calendar page.

Finally, the photos from Manakau Farm have been loaded to Flickr and linked from the club photos page. Sorry for the delay - it's been one of those weeks.

Thursday, 5 February 2009

Pikarere Photos on Flickr (at last)

Sincere apologies for taking so long with this set - the large turn-out and a lot on at work, along with family committments and another back-to-back WATRC event have conspired against me. But finally, its now linked from the photos page.

Now, if I can just make time to get Manakau Farm sorted before Waikawa Beach, perhaps I'll have caught up ;-)

Sunday, 18 January 2009

Photos from Daisybank (Wairarapa) on Flickr

As mentioned in the last entry, Leslie, Dove and I didn't make it to Bright's Farm. Instead we went over the hill to Daisybank, just out of Martinborough and on the eastern (drier) side of the valley. We usually make a Wairarapa trip an over-nighter, camping the night before or the night after the event, depending on the start time.

Daisybank is an attractive venue for Wellington based riders given it's relatively close for us compared with some of the Wairarapa venues. We hadn't been to Daisybank before, but had good reports of the terrain and going, backed up by Google Earth and TUMONZ. Had it not been for the clash of dates, we think more WATRC riders would find Daisybank a worthwhile outing.

As it was, there was a small field of competitors. Many of the Wairarapa regulars chose to rest their horses following the North Island Endurance Championships, held the weekend before. The weather was perfect for CTR, remaining overcast throughout the day, with light to moderate wind, and a little light drizzle towards the end of the ride. The course mainly followed well formed farm trails and in places crossed paddocks or skirted crops to link into other parts of the farm.

From different points on the trail one could look to the north over the Murdoch James vineyard, west across the valley to Lake Wairarapa and the Rimutaka Ranges, east to the Hau Nui Wind Farm, and in every direction over the award winning Daisybank farm itself. The rolling country means that the course is not as demanding as some of our hillier Wellington venues, making the slightly longer distance feasible. As already mentioned, I managed to walk one loop of the course in slightly over the Intermediate 1 time allowed, and I can't usually manage that on steep terrain ;-)

Anyway, despite this not being a WATRC ride, I thought some photos might be of interest to members, and perhaps might encourage more to consider making the trip over the hill to this or other venues in future. Take a look - aside from familiar faces from both clubs, I've tried to make a selection that shows the venue to advantage as well.

See you at Pikarere.

Friday, 16 January 2009

Newsletter 117 and Brights Farm results posted

Having survived the festive season, it's back into the second half of the CTR season with a vengence. Leslie and I were not at Brights Farm, so if anyone got out and took photos, drop the WATRC webmaster a line and we can get some onto the site.

Instead, we tripped over to the Wairarapa and the Daisybank CTR. An award winning farm near the Murdoch James vineyard south of Martinborough, Daisybank has gentler terrain than Brights - probably comparable to Waitohu. I amazed myself by walking the 20 km loop in slightly over the 40 km intermediate time (but suffered for it the next day ;-). Dove unfortunately threw a shoe, so Leslie withdrew on completing the first loop in an emergency boot.

Like Brights, we had good weather with a few spots of drizzle that never developed into rain, although further north we could see the signs of a downpour in progress. The overcast conditions and light southerly helped keep things cool. The event had a smaller turnout than Brights, as many of the Wairarapa regulars were resting their horses following the North Island endurance championships the previous weekend.

We're now looking forward to Pikarere and the rest of the WATRC season, and no doubt will see you all there.