LUX 2018 revisited

Wednesday night saw two photography walks taking place around the LUX festival. I joined up with the walk arranged via the Wellington Photography Meetup group. Winter might officially start next week but it’s been quite cold and stormy recently with the evening being cool with some rain around. This did mean that none of us spent as long as planned outside but the wet conditions did help create puddles and a sheen of water to hold the glow of the installations.

Capital-E takeover at the playground

Capital-E takeover at the playground

First up was the takeover by Capital-E of the Frank Kitts Park playground. Lots of lights, a disco ball at the top of the tower, some odd sounds and the swing seats had been replaced by neon-rainbow glowing models. The walk organisers quickly realised that keeping everyone together was going to be difficult so plans were made to meet at the Mac’s bar at an earlier time than first planned.

Also visited in the park were the giant mushrooms labelled Whareatua and the installation Kereru high up in a tree. I think to get the eco-aware message across the Kereru needed to be closer to the viewer, the plastic bag and cat collar details lost at a distance. The Massey Moshpit was sparsely attended when I found it but that probably had a lot to do with the rain that had started to fall.

The Massey Moshpit

The Massey Moshpit

We took shelter for a time from a rain and then were moving on before we got too cold. Pou Rama looked good after the rain and Bloom was enhanced by the reflections now found everywhere.

Pou Rama (Light Posts)

Pou Rama (Light Posts)

Cube also looked great reflected in the puddles on the wharf and it was a pity there weren’t more people around to enjoy the lights and music. Mandala was glowing serenely nearer water level but it seemed odd that it was positioned so close to one of the posts which blocked a front-on view.

In the end most of us were at the pub by 7pm, an hour spent walking around and taking photos. This year’s LUX is, for me, a disappointment after previous years efforts. I hope next time around that the laneways are utilised again, it’ll certainly help prevent the complete closure of the event when the wind picks up which has happened twice so far this year.

LUX 2018

The LUX festival is back for another year so we took the opportunity of a dry Friday evening to attend the opening night. The festival covers a smaller footprint this year with no extension into the city laneways. I think this is a pity as there are a few sculptures on display that would look better suspended in the narrow spaces rather than being held up by scaffolding along the waterfront.

Anyway, we spent an hour or so checking out all the sculptures. Alayna is currently wheelchair-bound because of a broken leg sustained while trampolining and this limited her ability to interact with some of the sculptures. Thankfully she was very happy to receive candy floss on a glowing stick and play with that as we pushed her around. It was worth a look but we’ve enjoyed previous years more.


Looking up at Cube


Where has the candy floss gone?


In amongst Pau Rama

Watching Pom and Pom dancing around

The playground lit up for Capital-E Colourplay

Playing with a marble maze, part of Capital-E Colourplay

Testing the Newton’s Cradle that is called Cradle2Cradle

LUX Light Festival 2017

After a hiatus in 2016 the LUX festival was reconfigured and back lighting up the Wellington night for 2017. Starting earlier in the year meant that the installations were powered up earlier in the evening which allowed us to attend with Alayna at a reasonable hour which was a bonus. The works were divided into precincts which was a logical progression and overall the organisation seemed improved on previous years, for instance having two areas set up with food trucks reduced the queues and the crowds.

We attended as a family twice and invited along some of Alayna’s friends and their families and this helped give the visits some variety. Both times we started with some food and then facepainting before setting out to explore the installations beginning with the Playground precinct.

Control No Control by Studio Iregular was a firm favourite and probably my pick for best installation. A large cube with a changing roster of lighting effects linked interactions. Touching the walls caused the effects to change and with plenty of space a large number of people could interact at the same time. Fun to play with and fun to watch it set a very high bar.





The little lion

Our little lion enjoying herself with Control No Control

The nearby Social Sparkles by Studio Toer was also interesting with suspended lights like hyperactive little fireflies following people as they moved below. Alayna for some reason wasn’t interested at all in this installation, perhaps the nearby sights and sounds of Control No Control were simply more engaging for a 3 (nearly 4) year old.



Capital-E had a couple of shipping containers set up with things to do. One had a sort of VR action game where hand movements influenced (rather than controlled) geometric shapes in front of a large face displayed on large screens. Of more interest to Alayna and her friends was the Electro Jungle where a black light lit container contained fantastical beasts and a forest which could be drawn on using glowing chalk. As with the last LUX there was also an area on the waterside path set aside for glow-in-the-dark chalk activities but it was much warmer (if cramped) in the container.

Alayna enjoying drawing on the walls of the electro Jungle with her friend.

Alayna enjoying drawing on the walls of the Electro Jungle with her friend.

Black light friends

Black light friends

Nearby was a totem-like installation named St Elmo’s Fire Tree created by Nelson local Anthony Genet. Four chaotic balls of fluorescent tubes sparked to life in glowing red. When the wind was blowing strong the straps helping to keep the piece in place would thrum adding to the almost ritual feeling of the piece.



Walking on to the Te Ao Mārama Precinct there were a couple of highlights. Tane Te Wānanga by Hemi MacGregor & Mara TK was a giant waterscreen in the middle of the lagoon which was captivating to watch and the amphitheatre seating at the edge of the lagoon made this a perfect spot to sit and take in the projections. Geometric shapes and dancers appeared and moved set to music and sounds while the wind through the water screen changed the size and intensity of the projection.



Neaby was another intriguing installation. Kaokao by Bob Jahnke. Two large Xs side to side and with red neon tubes enclosed in glass were striking from a distance and then close up the internal reflections made the neon appear to duplicate to infinity. It gave the piece a hidden depth and led to many people wandering around trying to figure out the optical illusion. I played around with shutter speeds and manual zooming to give an added effect to some of my photos.




KAOKAO – BOB JAHNKE (with added zoom)

We also happened to see the returning Lux Cats near Kaokao. First featured in 2015 these cats wandered around the Lux precincts in mysterious fashion. They happened to stop nearby and just stood there, occasionally turning there heads and appearing to stare at people. After a period of time and with no warning they started walking again, very enigmatic.

Light cats

Light cats

The Circus Precinct took in Civic Square and the City to Sea bridge and was our next destination. To one side of the bridge in the grass space fronting the Michael Fowler Centre there was an installation called Passing Me By created by Christopher Welch & Makers Fabrication. For a static piece this one was quite playful. If you stood in one place it was simply a wall with different colours glowing under the black lights. If you walked in parallel to the work the colours changed with the change in perspective. Many people were just standing and staring without realising how fun it was to view while moving and try to figure out what was going on.



Then on to the big display projected onto the council building. Circus of Light by Ocubo was a circus illustrated in an animated cutout style and involved a variety of animals performing (generally lame) tricks and most often failing in an unamusing fashion. Alayna summed it up for me when she asked after a few minutes “when does the real show start?”. It was pretty but overall for me and Alayna just boring. Plenty of other people seemed to find it enjoyable. The artists and acrobats entertaining between screenings were much more fun to watch.



Civic Square hula hoop

Civic Square hula hoop

Also found in Civic Square and then wandering around the festival were a pair of woman wearing Little Sun solar light dresses promoting the Little Sun project. Again this was a return from 2015 where there was a static installation of Little Suns displayed on a grid and it was good to see them back in a different form.

Little Sun solar light dresses

Little Sun solar light dresses

I was hoping for a night of rain during the festival but this didn’t happen during any of my visits. I like to photograph the reflections and reflected glow of the installations and I think the work Drawn by Lisa Munnelly & Angus Donaldson would have become even more interesting in those circumstances. Pretty much just some net curtains drapped over a large lightbox Drawn was interesting to watch when there was a wind blowing, the interferance patterns created by the fabric covered light were mesmerising at times.



Near Drawn was Augmented Geometries by Erica Sklenars, another projection mapping work. I liked the contrast with the grafetti covered wall below and the sequence was a lot more interesting (albeit on a smaller scale) that something like the Circus of Light.



My other favourite installation was Into the Underscore by Anita Dykes. A series of light emiting hoops suspended between buildings off Opera House Lane the colours and sequenced noises created an interesting if slightly disquietning show. Many people would approach and stand underneath mesmerised and looking like they would be transported up and away to some alien spaceship. This would have been another piece that would have looked great in the rain with reflections but the most I got was a section of hoops reflected in a tiny puddle.






INTO THE UNDERSCORE – ANITA DYKES, using the zoom technique again

Stretching Light by Joshua & Sam Lewis was a suspended lightwork above Opera House Lane. A number of neon strings navigating through a series of geometric frames it was diverting and an interesting addition to the laneway.



Over the road above just past the entrance to Eva Street was The Light Launder by Rayzordoll. A larger than life washing line with suspended linen was used as a medium to project slides of family memories. Eva Street is now home to a number of light installations that had their beginnings in past Lux festivals so it’s always interesting to have a look around.



So that’s a selection from this years LUX festival. I’m looking forward to the next one already and in the meantime there is a new light event planned for the Hutt Valley taking place later this year. The more the merrier I say :)

For the Birds

The last NZ Festival in 2014 included an event called Power Plant which was a trail of light and sound installations set up in the Wellington Botanical Gardens. It was a well recieved and popular event so there was a follow-up organised for this years festival called For the Birds. As the name suggests this new event had its influence in our feathered friends and overall it was a more thoughtful and relaxed experience while still encouraging interaction and cultivating a sense of wonder.

Books, birds and bird houses

Books, birds and bird houses (Cuckoo Ensemble – Artist: Jony Easterby)


Talking, glowing eggs

Talking, glowing Huia eggs (Nests – Artist: Marcus McShane)


Now extinct

Now extinct, the eggs of the Haast’s Eagle (Nests – Artist: Marcus McShane)

Initially the installations were mostly static with small moving parts and subdued lighting. The bird houses above had small bellows that sounded in cycles, mimicking somewhat mournful two note “cuck-oo” calls. The glowing eggs I found very engaging and very relevant. There were a number of nests containing eggs, each set representative of a species of New Zealand bird now extinct. The eggs glowed in time to an audio track of conversation between the birds inside the eggs and their hunters, for instance the unhatched Huia bemoaning that people would want their feathers when they look much better on the bird as intended. There was a lot of humour in the conversations as well which I found helped with the engagement.

Mysterious birds

Mysterious birds (Owls & Kingfishers – Artist: Mark Anderson)

Movement began to be introduced with installations traversing large areas. The mysterious calls of the Owls and Kingfishers piece came from small devices attached to long wires that were strung between trees and above the stream bed. We’d turn as we heard one approach and then watch as they came towards us and then disappear as the lights dimmed at the end of their path, only to spark up and pass back again a short time later. Alayna found it a little disconcerting but that was understandable for a 2 and half year old up well past her bedtime. I just wanted to find a space where I could try and get some photos without interrupting the constant flow of fellow visitors.

The glowing tunnel

The glowing tunnel (Feather Arch – Artist: Ulf Pedersen)

A glowing tunnel gradually formed as we walked up a slope, first appearing as lights in the distance and then becoming ephemeral walls and ceiling around us as the light source was approached, light becoming stronger and then fading as the smoke was pushed across the path. It was a beautifully still night so the smoke moved and dissipated slowly keeping the structure of the tunnel very well defined as passers by waved their fingers through the projection.

Birds through the wires

Birds through the wires (Piano Migrations – Artist: Kathy Hinde)

A crowd had formed in from of the Piano Migrations installation watching as shadow birds fluttered through the upended piano strings, their movement apparently touching on strings to make a strange music. Is was quite mesmerising, attested by the amount of time people stood by and took it all in.

Bird house silhouettes

Bird house silhouettes (Shadow Birdcages – Artist: Jony Easterby)


The bird arch

The bird arch (Lapwing Display – Artist: Jony Easterby)


How it works

How it works (Shadow Birdcages – Artist: Jony Easterby)

We came out of the forest into the dell that is the Troupe Picnic Lawn with a number of works scattered around. The Shadow Birdcages attracted a number of people who often posed to have their own shadow portrait captured with the bird cage silhouettes. Keryn and Alayna were immortalised in kind as evidenced at the top of this page. Stepping around the screen the birdcages could be seen and provided a separate interesting sight, hanging suspended while bathed in light.

Off to one side the silent outlines of lapwing flew up and then down into the still surface of the stream that defined the lower edge of the dell. The reflections completed the loop, an endless mirrored flight.

Looking at the spinning feathers

Looking at the spinning feathers (Feather Dervishes – Artist: Mark Anderson)


Cello and nightingale

Cello and nightingale (Nightingales with Cello – Artists: Kathy Hinde & Jony Easterby, Cellist: Elena Morgan

The path then headed upwards and opened out as we neared the Cockayne Lawn and rock gardens. Alayna enjoyed watching the Feather Dervishes and was quite keen to touch them as well, something we had to quietly dissuade. A number of large white feathers were spinning while lit by bright white lights and made an intriguing spectacle. All around the trees and vegetation was lit in an array of dusky autumnal colours providing a warm and inviting atmosphere. There was a variety of installations and near the end we stood and listened as cellist Elena Morgan played counterpoint to a recording of nightingales.

All up it was a wonderful walk full of interesting and thought provoking sights and sounds. We can’t wait to see what amazing event may came along during the next NZ Festival.

The stars from Makara

We had a weekend of wonderful weather with clear skies and little wind. The moon was rising late on Sunday night so I headed out to Makara to shoot the stars. It was a glorious, a little cool but calm and only a few people about the beach. Heading along the coastal path I could see a torch swinging in the distance but otherwise I was alone. With no moon it was very dark and the myriad stars were clearly spread across the sky.

The milky way over the Makara hills

The milky way over the Makara hills

Walking partway up the hill I stopped at the point where the path met the cliff. In the darkness I could just make out two guys in sleeping bags and another standing with a guitar in hand. They were simply taking in the view and chatting so after a short conversation I left them to their stargazing and I took the path north to overlook Makara beach.

Driftwood, lights and the stars

Driftwood, lights and the stars

From there it was back down to the beach and time for some experimentation with a flash and the torch function on my phone. There were a few driftwood constructs along the shoreline so I used one as a focus point, placing a flash inside and lighting the outside with a short burst of torchlight. It look a while to figure out exposures that worked but I got some acceptable photos. Next time I’ll need some gels (or something simple like cellophane) to add some colour.

Shining a light

Shining a light

Walking back to the car I took a few more photos using my actual torch to add some interest to some portrait shots. With the camera on my tripod and the timer set I’d hit the shutter button, run down the beach (trying not to lose anything from my pockets) and then stand looking skyward and pointing the torch upwards. How else was I meant to spend a Sunday night?

The kiwi jumped over the moon

On a clear and still night last week I headed out for some astrophotography. Driving north I ended up at Paekakariki and parked near the surf club before walking north up the beach. There was a minor issue in that moon was bright in the sky and the light was not helpful when photographing stars but I figured I’d give it a go anyway.

The moon and the milky way

The moon and the milky way

See if you can spot the galactic kiwi in the above photo. For an hour or so I was wandering around the beach taking photos. The moonlight lit up the landscape leading to some interesting foreground illumination. A nearby stream provided some good subject matter with piled up driftwood and logs though the occasional slap of sand collapsing into the water left me a little jumpy.

The stream leading to Kapiti Island

The stream leading to Kapiti Island

At times the long exposures rendered the night time landscape looking more like day time with a starry sky. I’ll have to head out again and experiment some more. It will also be good to return with a new moon to see what its like without the brightness of the moon.

The bridge

The bridge

Lux Festival 2014

It’s Lux Festival time again in Wellington. This year the festival was bigger with more installations and running over a longer period and unlike last year there wasn’t a big storm coming through on opening night. Keryn was meeting a few people from work for drinks so I headed into the city after work and caught up with Keryn and a few familiar faces at the University. Alayna was very well behaved, entertaining everyone with her smiles and calm demeanour (they should have seen her later on when we were trying to get her into her car seat ;).

Heading into the city we found parking, moved Alayna to her pram and walked out into the night. A few of the installations seemed to have some teething troubles which was a pity but there was still lots of interesting sights. The best ones encouraged interaction and being a friday night and early in the evening there were a lot of kids out. The boing boing gloop machine had a crowd of children surrounding it bashing away as the lights flashed and the surface moved around. Nearby screaming rapture had another crowd lined up in front and every now and then we could hear loud shouting which caused a huge glow to envelope those watching.



Potion Forest

Potion Forest by Haylee Drummond, Scott Fortune, Krissi Smith and Alena Woo

Merchants of Play

Merchants of Play by George Wallis, Libby Donovan and Jeremy Evison

With a week left to run I think I’ll be going back again, maybe a couple of times. Its fun to see all the installations and try and find new ways of photographing them and also to try and get shots of passers by interacting as well.

NZ Festival: Power Plant

Power Plant is a light and sound installation being held in the Botanical Gardens as part of the NZ Festival. I went along on Tuesday night which was lovely and mild with little in the way of wind. I arrived at the Cable Car terminal in the gardens to find a vast crowd of people all waiting their turn to wander through the defined path that Power Path had been installed along.

In the end those of us in the 9pm start group started walking around 9:30pm. Obviously fair weather meant that everyone decided it’d be a good night to attend. This meant that for the whole experience (I got back up to the cable car at 11pm) there were crowds of people and on the narrower parts of the path queues. In the end I think it was a good and bad thing. Good in that it meant all the installations were interacted with and there was never enough people that I couldn’t get up close to have a better look at anything. Bad in that it was slow going and none of the installations seemed intimate, and it wasn’t possible to spend a lot of time in any one place due to the constant flow of others passing by. I would also have liked to have experienced the event with smaller numbers as I think being alone of nearly alone with some of the works would have raised the atmosphere level considerably.

One thing that was not mentioned on the Festival website or the booking website (or the tickets) was that photography was not allowed. As there was no warning a lot of people had turned up with cameras and for the most part people ignored the photography directive. I didn’t take as many photos as I would have liked but this was more due to the crowds, its just impolite to stand in the middle of a path and take photos. However, as I had come prepared for photography I took a few photos which you can see below.

There can't be many nights in Wellington calm enough to allow hanging smoke outdoors. Tonight was one such night.

There can’t be many nights in Wellington calm enough to allow hanging smoke outdoors. Tonight was one such night.

The crowds were able to move more freely as we approached the duck pond. The DJ choreographed fire show was worth stopping for.

The crowds were able to move more freely as we approached the duck pond. The DJ choreographed fire show was worth stopping for.

Lamps were on the path and tucked away underneath trees. They pulsed and glowed as the eerie music emerged from the darkness.

Lamps were on the path and tucked away underneath trees. They pulsed and glowed as the eerie music emerged from the darkness.

The lights and music combined wonderfully.

The lights and music combined wonderfully.

One of the last installations and visually one of the more impressive the neon highlights and multicoloured spinning lights combined again with unsettling music for a spectacular impression.

One of the last installations and visually one of the more impressive the neon highlights and multicoloured spinning lights combined again with unsettling music for a spectacular impression.

Power Plant was worth a visit though having now experienced it with a large proportion of the Wellington population I can’t quite recommend the experience. Compared to free installations such as the annual light show in the Botanical Gardens for the summer festival and the Lux festival held in Wellington last year I think the Power Plant experience was generally better overall but the effect was spoilt by the crowds.

A clear night

Wellington’s Carter Observatory is currently running a photography competition under the theme Light & Dark. I’ve been getting more interested in trying astro-photography over the last year and recently bought a new lens (a Samyang 14mm f2.8) that should help me better explore the night sky and last night was the first time I have managed to get out and put it to use.

Once Alayna was mostly settled I was allowed out of the house around 10pm so drove north on the Paekakariki Hill Road. My destination as the lookout on the Kapiti side of the hill which overlooks Paekakariki and in the distance Kapiti Island. It was a mostly clear night with little wind and the waning gibbous moon was rising into the sky. Because of the presence of a bright moon I wasn’t able to get the sky full of stars shots I was aiming for (the bright light reduces the visibility of distant points of light) so instead I just tried out a few different things and got to learn some more about the new lens.

Kapiti coast at nightPhoto by Brendon & Keryn

Looking northward over Paekakariki, Kapiti Island and Roumati/Paraparaumu.

Paekakariki Hill Road glowPhoto by Brendon & Keryn

Looking to the hills east of the viewpoint, timed to capture a car passing along the hill road

As Alayna and Keryn allow I’ll be heading out for more evening shots over the coming weeks, I just need a well positioned and timed coronal mass ejection to light up the south coast skies with the Aurora Australis now :)