I listen to the rushing sounds of water while staring at the majestic Mount Sibbald, contemplating what brought me to this incredible landscape.
The answer: It was the result of a plan by a great friend to surprise me for my birthday.
With complete secrecy, he had organised to take me to Lake Tekapo for a photography escape. All I knew was I had to surrender my passport and be prepared for no sleep and plenty of adventure.
You can imagine my surprise when I not only arrive at Christchurch International Airport, but also see two mates standing at the baggage claim. What a start!
I hadn’t visited the South Island of New Zealand before, so my expectations were high—and this great land did not disappoint.
On the shore of Lake Tekapo, near the famous Church of the Good Shepherd. Captured this shot the first evening we got there
Over the next few days we covered as much terrain as possible between Lake Tekapo and Mount Cook.
On the second to last day, we jumped into the 4WD and proceeded along the east side of Lake Tekapo.
A stunning scene of stunning light and landscape
Mumford & Sons played as the soundtrack as we witnessed breathtaking scene after breathtaking scene.
We eventually crossed the Macauley River and continued north, but unfortunately the weather closed in, not allowing us to go any further.
Sunset at the north end of Lake Tekapo
We turned around and crossed back through the river, where we decided to stop and have a break. The pause in our exploration resulted in a composition frenzy. The sun broke through the clouds and it lit Mount Sibbald beautifully—highlighting every contour and crevice.
With great excitement, I extended my tripod against the banks of the gorge. I placed the rushing water in the foreground of my frame, the mountains in the background, configured my filters, and waited for the sun to do its best. The composition was complete so I released the shutter…
Epic: Looking back up the North East Gorge Stream towards Mount Sibbald
I am honoured that the Department of Conservation Te Papa Atawhai would choose my photo to represent their efforts and I hope you will see more of my imagery in the future. Thank you again for your stunning country and all its beauty. Get out there and experience it—unleash the Wildside!
Today, I’m proud to be one of over 9,000 people who ‘like’ Wildside and aspire to the ‘Aotearoa New Zealand. Live it. Love it. Look after it. Together.’ vision.
Of course, we’d love to have more people join us, which is why we’ve created these beautiful postcards and posters to raise its profile in the ‘real’ i.e. offline world.
As a member of DOC’s web team I see a lot of beautiful images every day, but when I saw that photo on flickr—showing North East Gorge Stream, looking towards Mount Sibbald—I knew it was the one for our Wildside project. Alana McCrossin, the amazing DOC designer who drew the short straw to work with me on the project, agreed.
I contacted the Sydney based photographer, Tim Donnelly, to ask if he’d let us use his image for the cause, and he kindly agreed—sacrificing his own precious time and money to help.
So, as much as this post is a shout out to Wildside—it’s also a shout out to the generous, talented, Tim Donnelly—and everyone else who willingly shares their time, gifts and talents to help grow conservation
On Thursday, Tim’s going to share his story behind that photo with us.
Last week I came across this video—a beautiful compilation of footage from around New Zealand, featuring some spectacular scenery across public conservation land.
Check out New Zealand Timelapse Presentation and the interview with the film maker, Bong Bajo, below!
Interview with film maker Bong Bajo
Name: Bong Bajo (from the Philippines)
What inspired you to make this video?
I’m a photography enthusiast. My forte is landscape photography. I remember seeing great shots of New Zealand and, ever since, it has been my dream to capture New Zealands’s grandeur using my camera. And since I haven’t seen many timelapse videos of New Zealand, I decided to focus my photo shoot on capturing timelapse.
What was your favourite filming/photography location?
I’m into landscape photography, always in search of locations with great scenery. In New Zealand, Mount Cook National Park was the best location for me. There were lots of areas to shoot. I loved those huge moving clouds—the lenticular cloud over Mount Cook—and their change in colour after sunset. The alpenglow was also great. Actually, I regretted that I never had the chance to explore all locations. I’m definitely coming back.
What part was the hardest to capture?
Tasman Sea on the West Coast was challenging. The Motukiekie formations area was a good spot for photography, but the ocean swell was crazy. For a few minutes, water was low, then all of a sudden it rose to waist deep. Very dangerous.
What do you hope Kiwis take away from your video?
You guys are blessed with an immense and very diverse landscape. You should be proud—show and share this to the whole world. Save them for future generations to enjoy.
How long did this take you to make?
It was a 15-day trip. I wish I could’ve stayed longer.
It took me over a week to edit the timelapse video, including the photos.
Apart from the timelapse, was there much post production work?
Much work was done on converting photos into videos. Colours were already in the shots, although they were enhanced a bit, since I was shooting some scenes in RAW. The secret to shooting the right colors was to wait for them to come out naturally. This means waking up early in the morning to hike and catch sunrise colors. And shooting at sunset up until the twilight colors come out and disappear.
In timelapse photography, it’s important to get the photos right during the shoot, i.e. the right exposure and color, because it’s going to be hard editing each photo in post production after taking thousands of shots.
How did you create the star trail images?
The beauty of timelapse photography is that it can make slow moving objects appear to move faster. Stars do move (relative to the Earth – because of Earth’s rotation). In order to capture the movement, I took timed shots of the stars; one shot for every 30 seconds, for one to two hours. Then, I put each frame side-by-side in 30 frames per second. That makes the effect of moving stars in the video. For the still image of the star trails, I stacked all the shots using software from startrail.de. That put together all the shots of the stars in one frame.
At times the camera was panning at the same time as filming. How did you do this?
I wish I had dollies and cranes to make my camera move. However, I packed so much equipment (three cameras, five lenses, two tripods, and lots of accessories), that I didn’t have an extra hand for dollies. I only used tripods (non moving).
I created the panning and zooming effect in Adobe Premiere Pro. Since my raw material (photos) were shot in 12 to 18 megapixels, I could crop on them easily without losing the quality of 1080p HD (two megapixels per frame only), and move that frame in the photo as the video was being rendered. Imagine having a huge photo, cropping a frame on the left, and moving that frame to the right as the video is being rendered. That makes for the panning effect. Next time, I’ll bring a crane :).
Stars in timelapse
Thank you for this opportunity to share my experience in New Zealand. You say that New Zealand is “the land of the long white cloud” and indeed it is, as I experienced it. But, for me, it is also a land of immense and diverse landscapes. And there’s no exaggerating that. The timelapse presentation will show you why.