“Chiaroscuro” was the word frequently springing to mind during a recent short trip to Queenstown, New Zealand.
Light seemed to be kinder from a photographer’s perspective in Queenstown by comparison to home in many ways and offered me longer hours of interest due to the chiaroscuric interplay of light and shadows on mountain ridges and in the valleys. Clouds that partially veiled peaks and summits created unique images wherever I looked causing me to lament on several occasions my decision to leave my telephoto lens at home!
I had tried to travel light on the equipment front knowing that this was largely a ski holiday (also awesome!)! I recently traded in my wide-angle zoom for a couple of prime lenses and this was my first opportunity to play with them. I LOVE them by the way! I discovered that the Nikkor 20mm wide angle gives an amazing starburst effect and the 14mm Rokinon was terrific for the small amount of astrophotography that I managed to do along the road that heads towards Milford Sound.
The contrast of temperatures between the terrain that receives sun and that facing away from its favour was remarkable and clearly delineated by the boundaries of snowfields. (I’m talking t-shirt versus hoody and duck-down jacket combo remarkable!)You can see quite markedly where the shadows trap the landscape relentlessly from the reaches of the sun.
The photographic possibilities resulting from this theatre of light and dark, warmth and cold was very arresting. That aside, Queenstown also has the most amazing array of jetties, submerged rocks, beaches and foregrounds for any visiting (or local) landscape photographers. A couple of these jetties facilitated some very satisfying sunrise and sunset workouts for my wide-angle prime lens, somewhat reducing the pain of my missing telephoto!
On the final morning prior to departure we managed to squeeze in a glacier helicopter tour, which at last gave me the opportunity to shoot some of the peaks in isolation. These images were shot through the chopper window. With some serious sub zero appropriate clothing it would be amazing to shoot with the door off!
Winter in Queenstown is definitely the Ying to Arnhem Land’s Yang in the polysemic world of natural beauty and I can sense that this is more a case of “until next time” than “goodbye”!
Keywords: and, black, chiaroscuro, landscape, light, mountains, new, photography, queenstown, snow, white, winter, zealand
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