Making sense of my photography hobby in retirement

Archive for April 21, 2010

Silky Water

An iconic picture of these falls by Nelson photographer Craig Potton has made them one of the best known places to visit in the Catlins, Southland.  Craig’s picture has fascinated me for years. When the opportunity came to revisit the falls after a gap of more than 20 years, I was intrigued to know if they would live up to my perceived image.

Purakaunui Falls - Catlins

There was less water flowing over the falls than I had hoped for.  This is not surprising considering the long dry summer New Zealand has experienced this year.  It was cool when we arrived just before 10.00 am and the sun was trying to break through the early morning mist.  It was quite dark in the bush that surrounds the cascades.

This image was taken with the camera mounted on a tripod and set at ISO 200 for 1.3 sec at F11. I wanted to capture some of the sensation portrayed in the famous Craig Potton photograph, and to a degree I think I succeeded.  To get this image required a scramble over slippery rocks near the viewing platform.

Pukauranui Falls are just one of several interesting cascades in the area which are worth visiting.  Over the next few days we photographed them too.


Misty Dawn – Catlins

Another morning, another dawn.  We moved to the Catlins Coast in Southland after riding the Otago Central Rail Trail for a different South Island experience.  Our accommodation was at Hilltop Backpackers at Papatowai, a one store settlement between Dunedin and Invercargill near the rugged Catlins coast.  Backpackers accommodation is not our usual style, but places to stay are in relatively short supply in that part of the world and Hilltop had good reviews on the web.  Being sixty something and not really wanting bunkroom style accommodation, we took the en suite double room which turned out to be a nicely furnished quaint period room in the old house overlooking the valley leading to the sea.

Misty Dawn - Catlins

Fellow travellers on that first night were from Hong Kong, Germany and New Zealand.  A retired school teacher and hotel concierge from Hong Kong, a PhD student from Germany, an office administrator from Auckland, and us – all fetched up on a hillside in the middle of remote Southland.

We had arrived at twilight. Being concerned that we had turned up at the right place we weren’t fully aware of the surroundings.  Sheep were wandering around nearby – one even surprised me in the dark as I unloaded the car by appearing out of the gloom to observe what was going on.

In the morning there was rustling outside our room which turned out to be one of our Hong Kong travellers photographing the mist and the sunrise. It didn’t take much to get me out there as well, and this is the result. What a great welcome to the Catlins Coast.