One of the interesting things about writing and publishing books is that instead of there being just a couple of proof readers, you now have thousands. With all these readers they sometimes find mistakes, and some of them write to me, for which I am very grateful. With a book the size of ‘BIRDS New Zealand – beauty like no other’, mistakes are inevitable. However, most letters I receive are positive, and some are so good they make my day. I received a letter this morning from Susan of New Plymouth simple saying “I obtained a copy of your glorious book today – what a feast!” James, an eighty year old man from Christchurch, phoned last evening expressing his enjoyment at reading my book, having taken it with him to the West Coast on a ten-day holiday. Seven-year-old Jamison from Christchurch recently wrote a very good letter (see below) expressing how he was enjoying finding all the hidden kiwis and herons. It brings me great pleasure to see others getting enjoyment from the books and makes all the effort of writing them so worthwhile.
Our third small Wanganui Book is now available and follows the theme of the previous editions, showcasing the beautiful city and surrounds. The book also contains text giving the top 10 attractions of the city and countryside, a brief history of Wanganui, and a city map with the main attractions marked. The RRP is $12.95 and its small size makes it very convenient for travellers to carry.
I have just purchased a new Canon 8-15 mm fish-eye lens that promises to be useful and great fun. At 8 mm it photographs everything in front (even my feet) e.g. 180 degrees, and produces a circular picture on a full frame camera (see picture below of Wanganui), like the Canon 1DX that I use. At 15 mm it produces a square picture, but still showing the fish-eye effect. We plan a trip to Japan soon and I look forward to using this lens for city and land scapes.
The book launch last Friday evening was a great success and by all reports the evening was much enjoyed by those present (about 90 people). Peter Frost, a local Wanganui scientist and ornithologist was MC, and after his introductory word Dr Phil Battley of Massey University gave us a very informative and interesting talk on their work with godwits, and what they are finding out about their migration. This was followed by the Mayor of Wanganui, Annette Main, telling us about Wanganui and some current initiatives, and then launching the book (see picture below). I then showed a powerpoint on some background of the book and talked about certain subjects that are new for this book. The formal part of the evening was followed by supper, that my wife Jane and others had so nicely prepared. Whitcoulls set up shop to sell books, selling like “hot cakes”, they mentioned afterwards. Since the launch we have been very busy getting the books out to shops all over the country, so are hopeful that good sales will continue.
We have a book launch planned for the 25th of July, 2014, at 7.30 pm. It will be held in the Davis Lecture Theatre of the Whanagnui Regional Museum. Our key speaker will be Dr Phil Battley, of Massey University, who will tell us interesting things about migratory birds, especially the godwit. Wanganui’s mayor, Annette Main, will unveil the book, and then Paul will show a powerpoint telling of the making of the book, and some interesting stories behind the photos. Anyone is welcome, but we do ask you to let us know if you plan to come, as a light supper will be provided. Attached below is a formal invitation.
The books arrived this week, literally a ‘truck load’. Ten pellet loads of books, weighing in at over 6 tons. This is another tense moment as with all the travel from China, and being shifted from truck to truck, there is a high risk of damage. But they all look good, and we have them all now stowed away. We have on hand a lot of pre-orders but will not send any books out until after the book launch on July 25, 2014. Below is a picture of one pallet of books, with me pushing, ‘boy were they heavy’! A friend snapped this picture on her phone.
Yesterday I received two advance copies of my new book – BIRDS New Zealand – beauty like no other. The remainder of the books (six tons of them) are coming by ship and due here mid-July. It was a very tense moment – what was the book going to look like? All my concerns were immediately dismissed – the book is just beautiful and exceeds my greatest expectations. Everbest Printing Co in China does such a great job and their colour rendition is spot-on. Never before have New Zealand’s birds been so beautifully showcased.
It is the time of the year for getting some new pictures for my annual Wanganui Calendar, not an easy task after many years of producing it. Fortunately Wanganui is a scenic area with the sea, the river, the historic city, the countryside and a backdrop of mountains. Every couple of years I seem to end up using a picture of the paddle steamer Waimarie, such a historic sight on the Whanganui river, a recent picture found below.
Update 22 May 2015 – Due to Whitcoulls not placing an order for the 2015 Wanganui Calendar I have decided not to go ahead with it. Each year calendar numbers have been dropping (from 3,000 to 1,800), now to the point where it is uneconomic to produce them. It is a sign of the times, due in part to the younger generation using smart phones, and the increase in overseas postage costs.
There is however good demand for the small Wanganui book and we plan to replace our current edition with a new one later in the year.
After three years of travel, research, writing, computer work and editing I have finally got the PDF document away to the printers in China for my latest book – “BIRDS New Zealand – beauty like no other”. This time I was able to send the files by high-speed internet, moving 4.7 GB of data in less than 30 minutes – incredible. I feel a sense of relief that I finally got the book together, as many times over the three years this completion point seemed so distant and impossible. Including a number of new topics and 50 new bird species meant a lot of extra research, as well as updating information on all the species previously included in my last book. Below is the contents page, where you can see the topics now included in the section called “The Nature of Birds”.
On my recent expedition in the subantarctic it was great to be travelling with other professional photographers, including a past winner of the BBC ‘photographer of the year’ competition. Ole Liodden, of Norway, was great company and I learned a lot from him. He takes tours for photographers up into the Arctic, photographing polar bears on ice-floes. We spent time together doing landscape photography in the south of the main Chatham Island. Ole is in the centre of the following picture, with the big black Nikon lens. We are photographing shore plover on South East Island.