Our unseasonable summer has interfered with a lot of holiday plans, as well as being a hindrance for the Davis Library's new foyer mural.
Produced by local photographer and author Antonia Sims, the mural was finally installed on Friday, February 3. Further foyer improvements, including new lighting, are still underway.
The library concept was to have a view as if patrons were looking out a window. It also had to be unmistakably local and ideally a view looking across the river towards the mountain. However, as Ms Sims explains, this was to prove a little difficult. "I was standing outside with Sonny Tamihana [of the library] discussing the required view. I remember one of my first comments was whether he could wait until a cool clear winter's day. At the time the wind had stirred up so much dust, pollen, and ocean spray that even the opposite river bank was hazy. Unfortunately deadlines meant this project had to be done as soon as practicable."
To capture the image Ms Sims went up to the library several times a day for more than two weeks hoping for perfect weather. Test shots were made, and several other panoramas around the Queens Park area created as potential backups if the weather didn't improve. "I needed a clear, still, windless day with the mountain not covered in cloud," says Ms Sims.
The 30th January 2016 proved the perfect day, almost unprecedented. "I arrived and there was the mountain in all its majesty - crisp, clear, and no wind! I set up immediately and did several sets of images. I'm glad I did as as soon as I had finished clouds started moving over Mt Ruapehu and stayed there for the rest of the day. We haven't had such a perfect day since."
Apart from the weather there were a number of other technical challenges. Due to the size of the mural (8.5m x 1.35m) the original image presented to the library was a 620 megapixel image - an iPhone 6 is only 12 megapixels. This required 69 separate images (three rows of 23) to be stitched together like a patchwork to create the image.
Also due to the high brightness of the snow and reflections off leaves, compared to the darkness of shadows on Bastia Hill, each of those 69 patchwork images was made up of seven identical images taken at different exposures. "Putting together 463 images really taxed my computer, and I noticed my power bill went up over this period," says Ms Sims.
In the end the library decided to use a smaller crop of the original image, which had extended from the Dublin bridge and included all of Bastia Hill as well as an extended foreground which included Bell St. While not as high a resolution as the full image, there is still enough detail that you can still see the dining room table in one of the houses across the river.
Apparently the most asked question and comment about the image has been "Where was it taken from?" and "I hope no-one is doing something they shouldn't in the windows of the houses". As for the location it was taken in the grassy dog exercise area by the Davis Library car park, and adjacent the tree closest to the Police Station.
This is the only spot where the mountain isn't obscured by trees. As for people doing what they shouldn't ... we'll let readers try and spot that.
¦ More information about the technical side of the shoot, and the original full panorama is at gwww.fluffydog.pics/river.html