Wanaka Dreaming

Wanaka Dreaming

The Story Behind This Photograph:

Taken at Lake Wanaka, South Island, New Zealand on April 8th, 2012

How far would you go for a tree? I flew halfway around the world for one. If this seems crazy to you please realize that this is no ordinary tree. Nay, it’s the famous Wanaka Willow, quite possibly the coolest tree I’ve seen. It’s like a bonzai on steroids, with gracefully sculpted limbs and the most amazing location ever. Growing directly out of one of the most scenic lakes on the planet, this tree is worth traveling for. Especially in April when the willow’s golden Fall foliage shines brightly against Lake Wanaka’s deep blues.

This photo is in my top three shots I’ve ever taken. In fact, no other photo I’ve taken has ever come as close to the vision I had for it as this shot. I’d spent years dreaming about visiting this tree and thinking about how I wanted to shoot it, how I could take a shot that put my own unique stamp on the spot. In my mind’s eye I pictured the tree in all its autumn splendor, the golden leaves contrasting beautifully against the blues of Lake Wanaka’s waters, with long exposure clouds streaking overhead. When I arrived at the tree on this morning to find completely cloudless skies I was disappointed, but managed a few shots anyway. Then, just as I was packing up to leave I noticed some billowy clouds beginning to traverse the lake. A few minutes later I pulled out my 10-stop ND filter and was able to capture this 62-second exposure, and the vision I’d held for the previous two years was staring at me from the back of my camera. Safe to say it was a pretty great moment.

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Lambing Season

Sheep in the Rees / Dart Valley near Glenorchy, New Zealand

Taken in the Rees river valley outside of Glenorchy, New Zealand, on October 22nd, 2007

Driving through New Zealand during their spring, my girlfriend and I saw no shortage of newborn baby lambs frolicking in the sunshine. When we stopped alongside the road so my girlfriend could snap photos of a couple of sheep, I just felt like stretching my legs and didn’t bother to take my camera with me. As I was walking, I saw this ewe and her lamb poised perfectly on the ridge of a small grassy hill. I sprinted back to the car to get my camera, wishing all the while that the young sheep was very hungry. Camera retrieved, I sprinted back down the road and was able to compose and fire off this shot seconds before the lamb finished feeding and both sheep trotted down behind the hill.

 

Nugget Point

Nugget Point sunset, The Catlins, New Zealand

Behind the scenes of this photo

Taken at Nugget Point in the Catlins, New Zealand, on October 16th, 2007

It almost didn’t sound worth visiting. The guidebook described Nugget Point something like “a few large rocks in the water, and nearby there’s a spot where you have a small chance of seeing some wildlife.” Hardly enticing, I thought, and was ready to pass by altogether. But my travel partner was intrigued by the chance of seeing penguins and albatross and so convinced me we should check the place out.

Driving down the long dirt road to Nugget Point I wasn’t sure what to expect, but once we arrived it was more than clear that we had made the right decision to come. Those “large rocks” the guidebook mentioned were actually a series of gargantuan seastacks stretching out toward the horizon. The sense of depth and space they created was simply breathtaking, and I’ll remember this as one of the most beautiful ocean views I’ve had the pleasure of viewing. Of course, it didn’t hurt that long, textured clouds rolled in in the afternoon, creating one of the top five sunsets I’ve ever experienced.

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Aoraki over Lake Pukaki, New Zealand

Aoraki over Lake Pukaki, Mt. Cook National Park, New Zealand
Taken from a viewpoint near Aoraki National Park, New Zealand on October 12th, 2007

Every photographer searches for special light, and driving away from Aoraki / Mount Cook National Park, I turned around to see a scene that had it in spades. Here I saw something very special as the afternoon light created wondrous textures on the massive and beautiful Aoraki, lit up a potpourri of colors in the trees in the foreground, and tinged the glacial Lake Pukaki a hundred shades of turquoise. All the work was done for me; I just had to click the shutter.

Clear Waters and Golden Sands

Clear Waters and Golden Sands

The Story Behind This Photograph:

Taken in Bark Bay, Abel Tasman National Park, New Zealand on October 2nd, 2007.

Beaches in Abel Tasman are, simply, what beaches should be: covered in golden sands and washed by incredibly clear turquoise waters. I wanted to represent this ideal beach in this photo by giving equal weight to the sand and the water, both of which show resplendently pure colors under a deep blue sky.

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