Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Christchurch: The Garden City

Finals have passed, and so it is time to enjoy my holidays. This holiday kick-started with a sprained ankle and a Pokémon symphony, then slowly found its way to Sydney's International Airport. I arrived in New Zealand on a chilly Sunday night, took a nap, and the first thing I went to see during the next morning were Christchurch's Botanical Gardens. I never expected this to be my first encounter of New Zealand, at bloody 7.30 AM, but in the end I stayed there for at least 4 hours. The reason? I had bought a clip-on smartphone-lens set at Sydney's Glebe's Market the other day, so I had some fun playing around with my macro lens:

I'm starting to believe that anything can be beautiful or interesting as long as you look close enough. Much will not be discovered until a closer look is given. I would've never found this yellow liquid on the bark if my macro lens didn't force me to explore.

I remember going to the Botanical Gardens in Melbourne, but it wasn't as thrilling as the one in Christchurch. Christchurch is sometimes called the Garden City, probably due to its amount of parks, but then again I don't think it was necessarily the difference in plants that made Christchurch' gardens more memorable to me than Melbourne's. It was simply my state of being while being in New Zealand. What can I say? The weather was pleasant, I had no 3G and I had my new lens.

Sometimes I forget how it feels like to be at peace. Whenever I am somewhere else, with less possessions, I tend to compare myself less with others simply because there's no chance to compare. The surroundings would be too new and interesting to be focussed on someone else's Instagram account, and the lack of 3G wouldn't allow me to stalk much anyway. Having started this blog and creating an Instagram account have motivated me to keep going, but sometimes it is also easy to let it consume me. I would start worrying about whether I'd ever make it as a writer, whether I'd ever make a difference in this world, whether my pictures would be regarded as artistic, whether people would like me for my strange perspectives on beauty.

In a garden full of the most colourful, fragrant flowers, I was most fascinated by this hairy flower with its interesting texture. I don't think I've ever seen anything like this before, and yes, the leaves are as soft as wool.

But being in the quiet for four hours with nothing much but a bunch of folders about Christchurch and a camera put my brain on relaxation mode. I have always been a horrific judge of beauty. I wouldn't know whether two colours matched together if my life depended on it, or how to dress nicely. The same goes for capturing pictures, I just go with the philosophy of: as long as I take enough pictures, there surely will be one nice picture in between. Indeed, currently my phone only has 600 MB space left (including its external SD card).

Zoom-in or zoom-out; these gardens will keep you satisfied for a whole morning.

To me, it just works to have something to focus on, no happy pill can add to my sense of self-worth, but creating does. With creation comes motivation, however, and I know that I'm prone to impatience. We see these glamorous results of others: the x-amount of followers they have, their pretty art pieces, that funny vlog they post, thinking it's all genetics and luckiness. A big part of it probably is, but another crucial factor is motivation and perseverance. I find myself being in awe and experiencing those fleeting shots of inspiration whenever I look at what people are able to create, but it never lasts long enough to get myself out of my bed and focus on creating things myself.

Hence, I started my Project365 on instagram, forcing myself to take a picture of something each and every day. I've always wanted to buy myself an SLR-camera, but I don't want it to end up like the guitar I asked for during Christmas when I was 13 years old: dusty and never producing a single song. To test my perseverance, I am hoping to buy myself an SLR-camera only if I have taken 365 pictures in a row. I failed twice, but I think I'm getting the hang of it now as I'm on day 24. Sometimes it's hard to find something interesting, especially when I'm staying at home. I'm also too shy to do modelling work even though I think adding a person to a picture make some things so much more interesting. Hence, I had to do with this Loki blockhead at the Rose Gardens:

Even though he looks grumpy, you've got to admit he's quite cute.

Of course, taking pictures with a silly Samsung smartphone isn't as fancy as holding a heavily-lensed camera. There are no opportunities to fix the light or add effects, but I feel like having less tools means having more opportunities to focus on the basics and improving on them. In this case: perspective and composition. I will always find myself frustrated because I can't take any nice pictures during the night or when I can't zoom in far enough with my phone, but for a beginner I am quite happy with my results. I guess I am lucky with the destinations I've been going to, I surely hope I can keep this up when I go back to the Netherlands while doing nothing much but working or staying at home.

Mona Vale, another green location in Christchurch.

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