I have a bit of a fun image today. In the summer of 2012 our eldest son and his wife visited us from Canada, where they live. Together we toured part of the South Island of New Zealand. The specifically wanted to take in some of the popular sites of Westland, including both the Fox and Franz Joseph glaciers.
It was on the walk from the car park to the glacier face that I captured this image. David is a keen outdoors person, and particularly loves the mountains. In order to capture the scene I asked him to walk across the bridge. Just to be different, he decided to approach the task with this exaggerated stride. I bit different from your normal scenic shot of a popular tourist attraction, don’t you think?
Living near a coast with views to the north and east (I’m talking about the southern hemisphere here) you are presented with a range of moods in the sky and on the water that is driven by the weather. The sea can be angry, or placid. The sky can be clear, or cloudy. Visibility can reach to the horizon, or be no more than fifty meters. All of this presents an infinite menu of photographic opportunities.
This image was taken in early May last year from Takapuna Beach on Auckland’s North Shore. It is looking slightly east of north just before 9.00 am. An overnight storm is clearing and the sun is struggling to break through the clouds, while blue sky begins to show itself overhead.
On the coast and in the mountains are two of my favorite places at sunrise and sunset. These are the times when clouds are lit at their most interesting best. Because both places are fully exposed to all that weather systems can throw at them, they are also exciting (and sometimes scary) places to be in a storm.
Peter’s Lookout to Aoraki Mt Cook
One of the best views of Aoraki Mt Cook that is available along the road from Tekapo to the Mt Cook Village is from a layby on the side of the road called Peter’s Lookout. For such a prominently signposted viewpoint it is a disappointment to drive onto a rough gravel car park with no information boards to explain the surrounding scenery, especially the mountains at the end of the lake. In the foreground is a newly cut pine plantation littered with the remains of the forestry operation. However, if you can overlook the immediate negative impressions, you are presented with this magnificent vista which features New Zealand’s highest mountain which towers to 3,754 metres (12,316 ft).
Aoraki Mt Cook is head and shoulders higher than the surrounding peaks. It is a technically difficult mountain to climb and a favourite challenge for the climbing fraternity. The first European ascent was on 25 December 1894. New Zealand’s famous mountaineer Sir Edmund Hillary made his first ascent in January 1948. On 29 May 1953 he and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay were the first people to successfully climb Mt Everest.
Red Sky at Night
It was nearly dark. As the sun set in the west a bright orange glow lit the clouds over the mountains. A chilly wind blew across the freshly plowed stony land. Out of the car to quickly capture the image and then retreat once again to the warmth inside. Head on back to Wanaka to takeaway dinner and a bottle of wine with friends.
A westerly front had been building all day and storm clouds had been building over the mountains. The ominous nature of the weather to come was reflected in the clouds as the sun settled in the west. Skiers hoped that the threatened weather change would come to nothing, and so it was as the next day brought only periods of thin high cloud over the southern ski fields and only moderate winds.
Along the Mt Aspiring Road
Travelling back to Wanaka from the end of the road to the Mt Aspiring National Park we passed this sign. The view of the mountain from this point is not as spectacular as the one closer to Wanaka but the mountain tops were still in sunlight and the shadows were lengthening quickly. I had to get the shot before the light was gone. Wispy clouds above the peak add to the atmosphere.
Further along the road towards Wanaka there is a small lake with boggy edges and patches of reeds. The clear blue sky and mountains coloured yellow by the evening sunlight were reflected in the water. I just had to stop to capture this image. Within a few minutes a breeze caused the water to ripple and the reflections were lost.