It’s that time of the year again!
2017 has been a year where I feel that I’ve shot less than in previous years but there have been some very special moments in the field for me. With Marianne switching to other artistic media full time, there have been less images to post but I hope you’ve still managed to enjoy at least some of them! This year, I’ve gone with the KISS principle (Keep It Simple Stupid). I’ve shot when I’ve felt like it, in a manner that brings me joy and presented the images that reflect a sense of happiness and wonder. In previous years, I feel that I’ve been overly concerned with other photographers’ perception of my motivation to shoot and the way images were processed. As a result, I started trying to shoot like other people, present images with a look similar to others. In hindsight, this was beneficial for my development as tried to teach myself to see things differently but in the end, I always come back to what I love : the grand, sweeping landscape bathed in vibrant light. I feel this is largely reflected in my favourites as even the longer focal length images attempt to convey the grand scene. If you have the time, see if you can pick the two images shot with the 70-200 and the two images shot at 24-70 focal length.
As the children grow up, they play more of a role in each shoot whether it’s part of the behind the scenes stories or whether the shoot is part of a grand plan for a whole day. With that in mind, here’s a countdown of my 12 most valuable experiences for the year.
12. Starting off with my favourite backpacking trip of all time! In January, I joined Luke Tscharke, Francois Fourie and Tim Wrate on a 5 day trek along the Western Arthurs to Lake Oberon. This image was taken after the first night of hiking . We had woken up to misty whiteout conditions which quickly cleared to a glorious morning. There are naturally a few more scenes from this trip in my countdown!
11. Noosa Heads National Park. In June of this year, we visited the Sunshine Coast as part of a family holiday. We had all walked out to enjoy the evening on this stretch of coast when sudden showers had everyone scampering for cover. I stayed out in the rain with Brisbane photographer Steven Waller and witnessed some amazing light on sunset. This was a poignant moment for immediately after the joy of witnessing this, I slipped and in fell the A7r2 into the water …..
10. Lake Bonney has always been a great go-to location for me. Because it’s a fair distance from Adelaide, I tend to go when the girls have a sleepover at the grandparents! So it was that on this morning, I was testing the Laowa 12mm F2.8 lens and was greeted with fantastic astro conditions after midnight followed by an amazing dawn! As with many of the shots this year, the photographs were taken in the context of mixing photography and family commitments. I drove straight from Lake Bonney to Port Gawler where we had a very successful crabbing session to fill our bellies for the next couple of evenings!
9. The Wanaka Tree: I must admit, I just don’t get the hate for this location. I shot here twice during the last trip to New Zealand. Once at sunset while waiting for takeout and the other at dawn on our last morning. On both occasions, I wasn’t really pushing myself to be overly creative but was blessed with great conditions. On both occasions , I managed to have some great conversations with people who were shooting there. I don’t make enough face to face contact with photographers and feel that perhaps I can be a bit elusive in the field ! These moments are valuable for me to shoot with others in mind and trying to come away with something different to the 20 other photographers there.
8. Motukiekie beach has to be one of the most dramatic seascape locations in the world. The addition of starfish colonies in the area perhaps put it even above many of the others! I was lucky enough to visit this location during a very low tide which allowed the whole family to experience the grandeur of this location. We stayed nearby and managed a few trips to this spot punctuated by one particularly awesome evening.
7. My only astro shot in this compilation was this memorable morning above Lake Oberon . At the time of this shot (with moonrise and milkyway rise occurring simultaneously), I had been explosively ill with some dodgy freeze dried Kung Pao chicken from this previous evening. Blowing wind and rain did not help the cause one bit! Thankfully around this time, the weather started to settle along with the bowels and I was able to take this image!
6. Rocky Creek Canyon. In November, Marianne and I celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary and decided to venture somewhere without the kids. Our last trip without Charlotte and Jaime was to Karijini so it would seem that we have a love of canyons! We are forever grateful to Jake Anderson and Blue Mountains Adventure Company who made this visit possible for first time visitors with a very limited time window. Normally, we wouldn’t be jumping into the water with the air temperature at 11 degrees but with the appropriate gear and guidance, it was a ton of fun! This was the last shot I took before heading out.
5. Nelson Lakes National Park has so much more to offer than just the jetty that is often shot. As pretty as that scene is, I feel it’s only a prelude to the wilderness beyond and hope to revisit the area in the future. This second trip up to Lake Angelus hut was special in that I had never really visited locations in full winter conditions. The Lake itself was completely frozen as was the water supply. Having to chip wood to start a fire, boil ice for water and help frostbitten late comers into the hut made this an amazing experience over and above the photography.
4. Back to the Tasmanian wilderness! After an evening and day of being battered by 100km gusts while being holed up in our tents, the following evening appeared to clear somewhat. I made a quick decision to hike up to the ridge above Lake Oberon and was greeted by an amazing light show. Golden rays were shining through rapidly moving cloud at eye level which made me feel as though I was standing in the midst of a timelapse.
3. Hooker Lake is one of my favourite in and out walks while visiting Aoraki National Park. One day, I’m hoping to get some colour and cloud over this spot but on this year’s trip, the clear skies worked its magic . The night temperatures were subzero which led to the shores of the Lake starting to freeze over. The patterns of ice were fascinating and I chose to use the 12mm lens to accentuate their depth. While this scene didn’t give the sense of awe that other scenes did, I really liked this image the moment I shot the 3 frames needed for it. Marianne commented instantly ‘that’s the shot of the trip’ when she saw my LCD even though we were only 8 days into a 3 week trip!
2. There are some mornings where the light bathes you in crimsons and reds. I was lucky enough to experience one such morning while watching the icebergs slowly move on a still Tasman Lake. This was our last morning in the Mount Cook area and what a send off it was! I to get to this scene and almost ran out of petrol for the return trip back to the south end of Lake Pukaki where we were staying.
Number One! It should come as no surprise that my favourite image from the year and favourite morning of shooting for the year came from the Western Arthurs hike. This particular morning also started off grey but with swirling clouds above, there were moments of brilliant passing light that was simply magical. We lingered until the last possible moment of light and packed up headed back for Lake Cygnus. For the remaining 2 days on the track we would be engulfed in swirling, wet,greyness as though mother nature had declared that this scene was our gift for the trek. It’s likely that this will be my favourite image of all time for quite a while.
If you follow our work, how did that list pan out for you? Were there any other images that you remember giving you a stronger impression than the ones I’ve posted? If so, it’s always good to know so leave your thoughts in the comments below! Wishing everyone a fantastic photographic 2018 🙂
The next destination in our New Zealand sojourn for 2013 was the town of St Arnaud. Its location is a prime position to base tramping in the area, particularly around Lake Rotoiti. Many photographers know the region for its iconic jetty images but the area as so much more to offer. The main emphasis of this article will be a write up of a few hiking possibilities in the area.
The town itself has a general store with necessities but little in the way of choice. There is also petrol and an ATM located in the same facility. We stayed at a lovely three bedroom rental house for what we thought was a more than reasonable price of 130 NZD nightly. From there, I went hiking to Lake Angelus while Marianne kindly took Charlotte for some of the shorter walks around the lake side. Lake Rotoiti is the more popular of the two locations but Lake Rotoroa 30km drive away is just as pristine and serene.
The following map is marked with a few pointers about doing a walk to Angelus hut.
- The starting point for most walkers is the Mount Robert car park. If you do not have transport arranged, there is mobile coverage there to ring a bus service in town. There are also many day hike options branching from there
- Robert Ridge: This is an incredible ridgeline walk which gives views over barren tarns and deep valleys. It is also highly exposed and it is very advisable to check the weather forecast immediately before taking this route. I managed to walk it in 4 hours in my haste to get out of the gale force winds which were giving a windchill of -23 degrees. The weather gets even worse up there!
- Angelus hut is located at the base of a cauldron of mountains with sharp drop off leading to endless cascades. An incredible location which is the base of many other walks branching out to surrounding saddles and peaks. By the time I arrived, there were westerly gales at zero degrees with horizontal torrential rain. Those of us who arrived were glad for the sturdiness of the hut. In the peak season from November to April, a booking is essential as the hut is very popular.
- Cascade Track: This is one of the other options to and from Lake Angelus. It is very steep and slippery but the scenery is something to savour. I could have stopped every few minutes to take photographs of the cascades as they tumble through rocky outcrops, open heath , beech forests and eventually pour into Lake Rotoiti’s outlet. I didn’t take the ‘Speargrass’ route option but would recommend this one. The only disadvantage is that it results in a longer walk back to St Arnaud.
- Coldwater hut. If the cascade track to Coldwater hut has tired you out, you can spend the night in this hut on the shores of Lake Rotoiti. Most of the striking scenery is behind you though and most of the remaining walk is flat and not as dramatic
- Whisky Falls. By the time I reached this location on my way out, I had gone through 3 sandwiches , 3 instant noodle packets, 1 250g block of chocolate and 6 muesli bars during my time there. It wasn’t enough, so I took a few shots and walked on out to the exit point 1 hour away. I never seem to learn – pack more than enough food, especially when the conditions are meant to be chilly. These falls are accessible as a day walk from a car park on the way to Mount Robert
- Kerr Bay is the home to two jetties. As a photographic tip, I think the jetty from the camp site (rather than the main driveway) offers a better view of the distant mountains. There are also numerous short walks in the area such the ‘Honeydew walk’.
Despite the conditions encountered, Angelus hut has well and truly been etched into my future plans for walking holidays. The mind boggles as to what it could look like in different conditions.
Today, we left St Arnaud’s to only the second blue sky day of our trip. We are currently in Kaikoura for our last stop in New Zealand for 2013. Perhaps we will be back next year in the North Island but for now, we will enjoy the last 2 days appreciating the scenery, wildlife and seafood that this town has to offer. Until the next update!