Photography Adventures in New Zealand
As an adventure, lifestyle and travel photographer based part time in the UK and part time in his trusty camper van Clement Hodgkinson enjoys photographing on the road. It is no surprise that jumped on the opportunity to spend a month in New Zealand shooting projects for tourism boards.
The assignments involved a month of ongoing travel in search of unique landscapes, the perfect light and the ideal weather conditions. Having ﬂown out at the end of June for the whole of July Clement was in the heart of the Southern hemisphere’s winter. This he felt in numerous hikes in order to capture a shot of the alpine environment. All of a sudden the weather into white out misty conditions, less than ideal for shooting images.
So what was I shooting my assignments on?
My main body a Canon 5D MK III is always by my side, it has been my main camera for 2 years now, reliable and durable which is what is needed when I am heading into the mountains.
In my gear pack:
ZEISS Milvus 2.8/15
Sigma 35mm Art f1.4
Canon 24 – 105mm f4
Canon 70 – 200mm f2.8
Creatively this travel assignment challenged me as a result of the weather I experienced when hiking, especially in the South Island where the majority of the remote, high altitude peaks sit. But when a location I had stared at on a map, looked at the sunrise and sunset timings came together I was able to come away with some of my best landscape shots I have ever captured.
The story of capturing Mt Taranaki located in the Egmont National Park
After a 10pm start in the dark, with 3 hours of hiking ahead of us, and a bad weather forecast showing a incoming storm myself and two others packed our hiking gear and cameras with hopes still high of capturing the image we had in minds. We had more luck than we could have wished for as the weather front never hit that night, as we reached the lake it was a relatively calm night but with cold temperatures. Under head torch light we set up our tripods, dialled the correct exposure and we able to capture Mt Taranaki in all it’s beauty.
With cold setting in we hiked back to the Pouakai Hut, where we crawled into our sleeping bags and set our alarms for sunrise. The sunrise never came at 5:30am, the weather front that never struck last night hit with all its glory surrounding us in thick mist and heavy rain, we waited it out staying warm by the log burner. The storm did not roll over, we cut our losses of a sunrise shoot but content with the images we took the night before we started the hike back down.
New Zealand is far enough south that it experiences the Southern Borealis, as with a lot of travel photography it’s a last minute game. When the sky conditions came around in my favour I drove the 4×4 up into the mountains through the Crown Range pass and came across this location. It was a perfect composition, New Zealand’s Southern Island landscape with the Milky Way and aurora lighting up the sky.
For this image I was again using the ZEISS Milvus 2.8/15.
I dialled the settings in at:
Shutter Speed: 30 Seconds
Why the ZEISS Milvus 2.8/15?
I chose this lens to be in my camera bag on this assignment for a couple of reasons. The extra width of the 15mm enabled me to shoot wide angle stills in numerous situations. However, at the same time thanks to the quality of the RAW images I was producing with this lens on my 5D Mark III it gave me the added bonus of being able to re-crop and scale in on a shot in post production.
So although, I may have been shooting on a 15mm lens I could edit the crop later to give a 24mm look to my shot if wanted. This meant I actually found myself using the lens more than I thought as it was proving pretty versatile for what is a wide angle lens.
Was I concerned that this was my ﬁrst time using a lens without AF, yes! However, when it came to it, using the zoom punch in on the 5D Mark III and manually focusing to the landscape was super quick and I never worried that it might be slightly out to add the focusing ring on the Milvus lens is incredibly well ﬁnished.
As my assignment in New Zealand came to an end I was reviewing all the varying conditions I had been photographing in. From low light to heavy rain and to shooting out of the side of a helicopter I had been challenging myself in numerous ways and the ZEISS glass proved a perfect tool on this project. I’m keen to use more ZEISS glass on future adventure and travel assignments and put some of the lenses to test in the Alpine world especially the Milvus 21mm and 85mm lenses.
Keep an eye on my sites for more adventure photography across Europe this winter season!