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Tag: NZ 2018

The Good Church

The Good Church

There seem to be two things that attract photographers to Tekapo in New Zealand—the incredible dark sky and the Church of the Good Shepherd. These can of course be combined, with some very famous images of each.

The township and lake, and the church, are photogenic in themselves, and daytime images are worthwhile.

The biggest problem with this scene, in the daytime, is the people. I setup and waited for quite sometime with the composition I wanted. I shot whenever the crowds were few, and eventually got an image with only half a dozen people or so.

I will admit I then did something I rarely do—I Photoshopped the people out1.

Although I prefer not to remove elements from an image, in this case my photographic vision, and the story I wanted to tell, was of the stunning location, the peace and the isolation. These are all true things, so I happily removed the people from the image.

The composition is similar to one used in one of Elia Locardi’s Photographing the World tutorials, which I highly recommend. I liked Elia’s composition, and spent time to find a similar composition. It is a learning technique to try to get inside the head of other photographers.

View this image in my Photo Gallery or on Flickr


  1. I occasionally remove elements from an image. I don’t add things that weren’t there. 
Aoraki Azure

Aoraki Azure

Driving from Wanaka to Tekapo in New Zealand we were quite suddenly greeted by an amazing view of Aoraki / Mt Cook across the stunning blue waters of Lake Pukaki.

As I worked on this image, a few months later, I was challenged to remind myself that the lake and the sky were incredibly blue. Editing any image requires the photographer to be honest about what it was about a scene that inspired them, and to produce a final image that is true to their photographic vision and the story they are telling.

This image was personally challenging in that regard, but I am happy with this result.

View this image in my Photo Gallery or on Flickr.

Lookout

Lookout

This image was made in the same general area as my Wanaka Wandering image, and apart from demonstrating the value of getting to some unique, off-the-beaten-path locations, it also demonstrates another value of a photo tour.

In this case the tour guide not only volunteered to be a model, but new a great spot that could use a human element to bring perspective to the immense landscape. There’s a reason that the Lord of the Rings trilogy was filmed in NZ, including in this very area.

People don’t feature in many of my images, but I have to admit that in this instance the human element added to the image, significantly.

View this image in my Photo Gallery or on Flickr

Image Data

  • C: Panasonic Lumix DC-G9
  • L: Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 8-18mm f/2.8-4
  • E: Lightroom CC Classic, Photoshop, Nik Collection
Wanaka Wandering & the value of photo tours

Wanaka Wandering & the value of photo tours

Wanaka Wandering

A photo tour in Wanaka, NZ, took us onto private property in the hills high above Lake Wanaka.

It was a magical location, off the beaten track, that provided for some unique images that showed the scale of the lake and surrounding mountains and valleys.

This image was made in the evening with beautiful blues, greens and golds in the countryside.

View this image in my Photo Gallery or on Flickr

Value of Photo Tours

As an experienced scuba diver1 I am comfortable diving in most diving situations, yet when I go to new places I enjoy the opportunity to dive with a local guide. Even though I might have greater experience or qualifications in diving overall, local dive guides generally know a lot more about diving in the local environment that I do.

I’ve had the opportunity to take several dedicated photo tours, including one in Ubud, Bali and one in Wanaka, New Zealand. While I hear some experienced photographers question the value of such photo tours, sometimes of belittling the participants for ‘stamp collecting’ images, I think that such tours can have several advantages.

General Advantages

The right pace. Photographers often lament that when travelling in general tours the pace of the tour is too fast to allow them to stop and create great images. Other participants will complain that the photogs are slowing the group down. Specialised photo tours mean structure the pace for photographers, and everyone knows what they are getting themselves into.

Locations are picked for the conditions. The photo tours I’ve undertaken have had a general list of locations, but always advertise that conditions will be selected for the day. To suit photographic conditions.

Meet others with similar interests. On photo tours you might meet with other photographer who share similar interests. This might provide shooting partners for other days in the area.

The chance to talk photography with other enthusiasts. The travel to and from locations, the breaks and meals are times when participants and guides will strike up conversations. You can talk photography, knowing that everyone is a willing participant in the conversation ;-).

Advantages for the novice

Experiential instruction. While not courses, per se, photo tours offer guides who understand photography, and can offer tips and tricks.

Chance to try out equipment. Some photo tours will supply specialised equipment for the type of photography. This might include tripods, filters, etc.

Permission to play without being rushed. Not having non-photogs around means that the photogs can focus on the task at hand.

For the experienced photographer

Get you to the best photo spots. Many of my favourite photos have come from once in a lifetime destinations2. While I research my locations before travelling, it is nice to have someone who can take you to the best locations, at the best times.

Access to unique locations. The photo tour I took in Wanaka, NZ, went high into the hills above the Lake, overlooking the town in the distance. The location was on private property, and the operator, Ridgeline Tours had exclusive access to the site. It was a unique and magical site for late afternoon and sunset images.

Tips / tricks / critiques from another photographer. Regardless of how experienced we are, there is always someone better. The guides on photo tours generally really know the photographic techniques for the areas they are in. This critique can shorten the learning curve.

Opportunity to try out new forms of photography. You might be a great landscape photographer, but perhaps a photo tour will provide the opportunity to try out nightscapes.

Final Thoughts

I would not, nor would I recommend, making photo tours a daily activity on a holiday or adventure. But there are reasons to consider that they might be advantageous from time-to-time. If a photographer enjoys the occasional photo tour, all power to them.


  1. As a PADI Course Director I teach all levels of scuba diving from beginner to higher level instructor courses. 
  2. Or at least locations I will visit only rarely. 
A New Zealand Adventure Begins

A New Zealand Adventure Begins

Flightpath to Queenstown

Queenstown, a city on New Zealand’s South Island, is sometimes referred to as the ‘adventure capital of the world’, a title it has earned through the variety of outdoor and adventure activities that can be pursued in and around this alpine city.

Even the flight into Queenstown is regarded as the world’s most scenic approach, as well as one of the ultimate landings for thrill-seekers.

This is due to the need for the pilots to fly in over Lake Hayes, navigate through some very mountainous valleys and finally land on a runway that seems to lead straight into Lake Wakatipu.

Runway to Lake Wakatipu

The image at the top of this page shows one of the valleys through which arriving aircraft must fly, and a careful look will reveal an Air New Zealand Boeing 737 on final approach. The second image, just above shows the final valleys and peaks to be navigated, with the runway of the airport leading to Lake Wakatipu.

Skilled pilots of major New Zealand and Australian airlines regularly and safely make this flight, but it is nonetheless an amazing arrival for first time visitors and residents returning home alike.

Middle Earth

It is thrilling arrival to the start of an adventure to some of the incredibly picturesque landscapes in the world.