Tasman

The Tasman Sea is a huge part of the West Coast. Beyond simply delineating the land’s edge, it has a pervasive influence on life here. I suppose that is true for all coastal communities and their briny neighbours, but it feels extra strong here. Perhaps it’s the fact that there is only a tiny sliver of habitable land, squished between the Tasman and the Southern Alps. Perhaps it’s the wild, inconstant nature of our particular puddle that impresses itself so heavily on our lives. I’m no meteorologist, but I gather the Tasman plays a pretty significant role in our local weather. It certainly plays a significant role in my heart. I really love this place, and gazing out over this body of water, whether tempestuous or tranquil, makes something inside me feel so at home. For all that, I don’t think I’ve paid a great deal of photographic attention on the Tasman as a subject. More often I am preoccupied with the grandeur, the spectacle and drama of the landscape, the bigger picture. One morning recently I headed up the Coast early with my good friend and fellow shooter Stewart Nimmo hoping for some magic morning light. It was looking a bit dreary and we nearly turned back without shooting a frame. But once you’ve dragged yourself out of bed before dawn you may as well get out and get some fresh air at least, right? So we did, and I ran up and down between the waves to catch some moody, minimal portraits of that dynamic zone where the sea meets the land and they play out the battle of eons called erosion. I’m glad I did.

As with any images I post here, these are available for purchase as fine-art prints. Get in touch to discuss options and prices. I’d love to hear from you.

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Haystacks

Photographing the same subject over and over, in many different lighting conditions, weather, seasons, and moods is a wonderfully illuminating exercise. I’ve been photographing Sewell Peak, a hill near Dobson, where I live, for a year and a half now. Since moving out here, I’ve been pretty fascinated by it’s changing demeanour in various conditions. I’m not sure if it’s the radio and other equipment installed on the summit, giving it a little hint of other-worldly, sci-fi, feeling, or the way it silhouettes against the changing skies, or just the fact that I see it every day out the window, as I drive up the valley, from the garden, and many more times besides. It quietly dominates the skyline. Add to this the fact that I love to scurry all over it – there is a track to the summit which I walk, run, and mountain bike on a fairly regular basis. I get a kick out of looking up at the peak from my house, and a few hours (or less) later, looking down on my house from the top. It’s a geographic feature with a rich history of mining. There was once an aerial rope-way to bring coal down from a mine part way up the hill. There are relics of miners past scattered along the track, and it begins from Greymouth’s most significant historic site – the beautifully preserved and interpreted Brunner Mine Site. I think mostly, though, it doesn’t actually matter much what the subject is in this type of project. It needs to be easy enough to access so that you can shoot it regularly, but beyond that almost anything is worthy of long term observation. It helps to hone your attention to the light, gives you a reason to keep your eyes open and aware, a reason to carry your camera at all times, and an appreciation for how a small change in angle, or conditions, or lens, or any number of other factors can make a very different image. Here are a selection of images I’ve made of my dear friend, Sewell Peak.

Oh, and the title of this post is a reference. 10 points to anyone who can tell me to what it refers.

Dramatic cloud silhouettes are a favourite, in case you couldn't tell...

Dramatic cloud silhouettes are a favourite, in case you couldn’t tell…

Some foreground for once! I'm not sure why but I tent to prefer the 80/20 or even 90/10 split, and in this case the sky usually becomes the dominant feature. Who can resist a mirror calm river, though?

Some foreground for once! I’m not sure why but I tent to prefer the 80/20 or even 90/10 split, and in this case the sky usually becomes the dominant feature. Who can resist a mirror calm river, though?

Moonlight, meaning a long exposure, plus high moving cloud, creates an eerie backdrop.

Moonlight, meaning a long exposure, plus high moving cloud, creates an eerie backdrop.

Sunrise paints the high cirrus beautiful colours, and tinges the valley fog with warmth that belies the frigid wind pushing it down-valley.

Sunrise paints the high cirrus beautiful colours, and tinges the valley fog with warmth that belies the frigid wind pushing it down-valley.

Late evening afterglow - it's always worth waiting for a while after sunset.

Late evening afterglow – it’s always worth waiting for a while after sunset.

Billowing cloud against blue sky, and strong light, add drama.

Billowing cloud against blue sky, and strong light, add drama.

Star trails, and wisps of cloud lit with moonlight.

Star trails, and wisps of cloud lit with moonlight.

High cloud lends a moody feeling.

High cloud lends a moody feeling.

Lake Kaniere Panorama

Just diggin’ through the archives and happened across this wee gem. Stitched panorama of Hans Bay shot from the CineStar UAV. There’s a subdivision going in the foreground of this image – but not some cookie cutter suburban maze. The sections in this part are huge, with lush forest, and they all reach out to the edge of the terrace overlooking the lake. The taller forest to the right of the image is conservation land, with stunning mature emerging canopy trees.

Hans Bay, Lake Kaniere

Aerial stitched panorama overlooking Hans Bay, Lake Kaniere

Calendars!

Want a beautifully designed 2014 calendar full of stunning panoramic West Coast landscape images? Then I’ve got the deal for you!

Just Click Here to purchase, and all your Christmas-present-pressure related stress is gone! Or, you know, just one for yourself, so you can look at gorgeous landscape photographs of the wild West Coast all year round. There’s some award-winning images in there, and it’s only twenty bucks. Heck, if you buy three I’ll even ship ’em for free!

From the archives…

It’s a pretty miserable day here today, so I’m stuck in the office dreaming of places I’d rather be. So why not post some photos of those places!

Here’s one of my favourite places in the world, and, in my opinion, certainly the finest day walk in New Zealand. Only a couple of hours from the main Milford road, Gertrude Saddle is a magnificent viewpoint and an incredible location of granite slabs and tumbling cascades. Well worth the effort to visit.

Gertrude Saddle Panorama

Looking down on Gertrude Saddle, and out to Milford Sound on the far right.

And while I’m in the Darrans (at least in my imagination) here is another favourite spot of mine. Shot from the slopes of Sabre, this is the Adelaide Basin, and Lake Adelaide, with an approaching front gathering. On the left you see Lake South America below Adelaide Saddle. A bit harder to get to, but an amazing location.

Adelaide Basin

A front rolls in over Lake Adelaide, from the lower slopes of Sabre Peak.

And lastly for today, a shot of my climbing buddy Jack heading up onto Mt Crosscut, silhouetted against mist sitting in the Gertrude Valley, Mt Talbot in the background. This was early on a day circuit traversing Crosscut’s West and Middle peaks, followed by Barrier Peak and Barrier Knob, and a descent via Gertrude Saddle. This image won the overall prize in the 2011 FMC Photo competition.

Talbot and Jack

A climber is silhouetted against morning mist in the Darran Mountains.

Lake Kaniere morning

I snuck down to Lake Kaniere early one morning last week and struck a beautiful misty, calm dawn. I shot a few landscapes and then met Dave to shoot some timelapse and UAV footage for a project we are working on. Here are a few shots from the early morning.

Early Snow

I was on my way to Christchurch and decided to spend the night in Arthur’s Pass. The West Coast Alpine Club hut provides salubrious accommodations at a ludicrous price of $8 (for members) a night, and the promise of snow was irresistible. Unfortunately I had to head off very early and missed out on the glorious winter wonderland this morning, but here are a few shots from last night.