Kia Ora! (and apologies)

It takes some getting to used to but I now like saying that the three of us have returned from a trip through the amazing landscapes and hospitality of New Zealand’s South Island. It was our first trip overseas with Charlotte who was 8 months old at the beginning of the trip. The other ‘baby’ we brought along was the 5dmk3 and we are proud to say that both behaved remarkably well πŸ™‚ We are currently sorting through a myriad of images and videos and unfortunately, it may take longer than usual – not only because of work but because we felt that we were really spoiled for choice after witnessing such beauty! In future posts, we hope to take you through our locations in more detail but for now, here are some anecdotes for our trip.

1. Shag rock used to lie along the coast of Christchurch. Following the devastating earthquake in 2011, it was one of the many casualties both man made and natural. I’m told that locals now call it Shag Pile though what an impressive pile of rocks it still makes ! That stretch of beach seemed particularly popular with joggers as many ran by and touched the rock as though it were some kind of route marker?

5dmk3, 16-35mm F2.8 II lens, F11,Β  ISO100, 50 seconds +100 second exposures blended.

Shag ‘Pile’ , Christchurch

2. The Church of the Good Shepherd : This is one of the prime locations for night sky photography in New Zealand and possibly anywhere in the world! During this night, I did observe some general photographic and tourist etiquette issues. I first tried to take a series of images from 8pm -10pm. A few of us were taking turns to take our images with or without some attempted light painting. Intermittently however, some mandarin speaking tourists would barge into the exposure with headlights, flashes and proceed to attempt taking images without regard for the 3 of us waiting patiently with tripods set up. I am asian and I do speak and understand limited mandarin but none of their conversation regarded some kind of haste to allow the rest of us our opportunity. It’s times like this where I shake my head and try not to perpetuate the rather negative tourist stereotype of my own kind. I found more peace when I chanced an early morning visit at 4am and thankfully the skies remained clear.

5dmk3, 16-35mm F2.8 lens, F3.2, ISO3200, 30 second exposures X 3 blended in CS5.

Milky Way over the ‘ole church

3. Roadside shooting: We found that our daytime images were very limited as stopping the car had the rather adverse consequence of waking Charlotte! As a result, most of our photography occurred at predetermined destinations rather than our usual practice of finding subjects off the beaten track during the day in between destinations. Despite this limitation, there were a few moments we did stop. Unfortunately, Charlotte did wake after the stop for this image overlooking lake Pukaki in between Tekapo and Mount Cook.

5dmk3 , 70-200mm F2.8 II lens, F8, ISO200, 1/200

Late autumn snow storms

4. Mount Cook National Park: If you love mountains, if you love alpine scenery, if you love hiking and if you want to give yourself the best chance to get ‘that’ picture you envisioned then do yourself a favour. Spend more than 2 nights in the area! Our two nights there were not nearly enough to explore the Hooker Valley, Tasman Valley and Sealy Tarns. I had planned to overnight at Mueller hut on the second night there before I realised that my return on the following morning would not coincide with a timely checkout and that it would leave Marianne to pack up all the heavy stuff with bub in hand. This place is definitely on the ‘redo’ list of places but nevertheless, the brief sojourn was filled with memorable moments despite the initially poor weather. Our first evening ended at the Tasman Lake mouth where there were brief moments of light. Charlotte had her first taste of wind, rain, and cold experienced from the inside of a sealed and fogged up waterproofed unit on my back.

5dmk3 , 16-35mm F2.8 II lens, F16, ISO50, 2.5 seconds

Tasman Lake river mouth

5. Lake Wanaka : The town of Wanaka is the base for exploring Mount Aspring National Park and a gateway to the west coast further ahead. The weather was crystal clear during the day and frosty in the mornings. This led to some superb conditions in the mornings. Like most of our locations visited, a mere 2 nights would only provide us a sample of the beauty on offer. On one of our morning shoots, we picked Glendhu Bay as a location to photograph the snow capped mountains across Lake Wanaka. On the way back, we paid a visit to a very famous and photographed tree!

5dmk3, 70-200 F2.8II lens, F5.6, ISO800, 1/400

‘That’ famous tree of Lake Wanaka

6. Autumn Colours: Based on a visit to Jiuzhaigou (Szechuan province China) in 2009, the autumn colours were very prominent in late October. Accordingly, we figured that late April would still provide us with vibrant Autumn foilage. It turns out that with the exception of a few locations, most of the leaves had already fallen by the time of our visit. Arrowtown was once of the places we visited specifically for these colours and despite the fallen leaves, the remaining foliage was still simply stunning.

5dmk3, 70-200 F2.8II lens, F11, ISO50, 1 second handheld (vertical pan during exposure)

Autunm abstracts from Arrowtown

7. Frost : From Arrowtown and Queenstown, we moved on to Glenorchy where yet again, 2 nights was not enough. The weather remained remarkably crisp and clear which once again led to early morning frosts. This coated the ground with a thin layer of ice which transformed the scenery into a winter wonderland for the first hour or two of the day.

5dmk3, 16-35mm F2.8II lens, F16, ISO50, 1.6 seconds for each frame of panorama

Frost & Fire from Glenorchy wharf

8. Milford Sound. I think that this location needs no introduction. It was Marianne’s prime destination for the trip and I found myself wondering if perhaps its impact would be lessened by the amazing scenes we had already witnessed. I am so glad to report that despite the wonders we had already seen, Fiordland simply topped it all! During our 3 nights based at Milford, I spent one night hiking the Routeburn track to Lake Mackenzie while Marianne stayed at Milford with Charlotte. After a day of heavy rain which we entirely expected, we were priveleged to see Milford sound in all of its conditions ranging from blue skies, to sultry poor visibility, to glorious light. I only wish I could have been down at the sound witnessing this scene Marianne photographed -particularly to see the sprays of Bowen Falls in this light.

5dmkII, 17-40mm F4 lens, F16, ISO50, 2 exposures for each of 4 frames stitched in CS5

Milford Sound after the rains

9. Lake Te Anau: Our time at Lake Te Anau was also highlighted by a particularly vibrant dawn. It so happens that this also occurred while I was hiking one night of the Kepler Track. Marianne witnessed the amazing dawn from the shores of Te Anau itself. The water taxi had no customers that morning. If you have already been to Milford, Te Anau is a wonderful place to relax or possibly use as a base to visit Doubtful Sound.

5dmkII, 17-40mm F4 lens, F16, ISO50, 4 seconds

The taxi waits

10. Hoiho! After leaving Fiordland with a sad heart, we said goodbye to snow capped mountains and headed toward the Catlins. One of the locations we visited with a purpose in mind was Curio Bay. The dusk arrival of the yellow-eyed penguins was met with wonder by the small group of enthusiasts watching them march back to their nests just before dark. In these conditions, the 5dmk3 once again excelled in low light and high ISO shooting conditions. Taking images up to 6400 ISO still provided quality images and videos. We simply had to revisit these birds again the following morning. Beware though, the sandflies are out in force around there!

5dmk3, 70-200F2.8 II lens + 2x extender, F5.6, ISO5000, 1/400

It’s off to work we go!

11. Between rocks and a hard place. After 3 nights in the Catlins photographing waterfalls, braving the rain and watching the subsequent rainbows, we moved on to our last location : Moeraki. We had hoped to catch the boulders at high tide but sadly our evening and morning shoot were both in low tide with little cloud in the sky. Nonetheless, the textures of the rocks were amazing!Β  Between the Catlins and Moeraki we stopped off at Dunedin for a junkfood and chinese takeout fix, but we’re still going through images from this section of our trip. Our accommodation was very close to Saint Clair beach where I could also satisfy my urges to photograph disused jetties!

5dmk3, 16-35mm F2.8II lens, F16, ISO100, 400 second exposure (ND1000)

Saint Clair’s Pillars

Our trip was over before we knew it! After a last morning at Moeraki, we were out of the country and back at work 36 hours after touchdown back in Adelaide. Charlotte seeemed to have a great time and we felt that even though parts of the trip felt like we were just looking after her in a different location, it was a worthwhile journey for her development! We also learned a few tricks about travel which might be the topic for another post. That, and the many ‘holes’ I’ve left in this brief recount of our journey.

Until next time!

-D &M


Posted on June 2, 2012, in How we..., New Zealand, Photography and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 22 Comments.

  1. Amazing images Dylan and Marianne!! New Zealand is such a beautiful country. I can’t wait to go back there.

  2. Andrew Burgess

    So crisp and clear, fabulous work as always to the three of you. πŸ™‚

  3. Such beautiful places, and captured very well too

  4. These are all amazing images Here is a post we did recently on the “Church of the good Shepard” by one of our feature photographers

  5. absolutely gorgeous shots! you are an inspiration.

  6. Stunning images and a great read

  7. Marin Canning

    Great shots Dylan! I’m looking forward to seeing more. We basically went to the same places but we did it in the opposite direction!

  8. Great shots, looking forward to further posts on your travels to New Zealand!

  9. Totally awesome Amazing images Dylan and Marianne
    New Zealand is totally a amazing place espically the south i went to Mount Cook and definietly wish to back and also visit Glenorchy
    Do you consider the Mark 3 is a far better camera than the Mark 2?
    Once again beautiful


    • Darrell – undoubtedly a better camera – the only question is , is it worth the price?
      I think so – the AF, the low light performance, ergonomics, in camera spirit level and live view histogram , DOF preview button in a better position, weather sealing – these were all things I took advantage of in the one trip.

  10. Fantastics shots, been to most of those places but didn’t get any shots near as good as these

  11. Wonderful images, Dylan – superb!

  12. Great information once again..
    I am looking forward to more updates.!

  13. You’re so interesting! I don’t believe I’ve read anything like this before.
    So great to find another person with a few unique thoughts on this subject.
    Seriously.. thanks for starting this up. This web site is something that is required on the internet,
    someone with some originality!

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