Baby, It's Cold and Wet Outside

As photographers, we embrace weather because it makes for some of our best images.

ABOVE: Two old boats, laid up at Bluff, New Zealand’s southernmost port. I sheltered under a bush for almost four hours to get this shot, as rain squall after squall blew over this scene. I was captivated by the play of light as sun broke through clouds to illuminate the water and gusts and rain danced among the waves, but it took many tries to capture all the elements.

One of the most common questions people ask when they have booked a photography tour is what happens if it rains. The answer is – we break out umbrellas, towels and lens cleaning cloths. Unless rain is so torrential that it makes being outdoors dangerous, we look forward to capturing some interesting light and action in our landscapes.

Our mountains, lakes, rivers, forests and alpine plains are unquestionably spectacular, but the landscape really is a stage on which our weather and light create myriad moods and expressions. We’re here to help you find those amazing expressions of nature’s beauty and to help you capture them with your own vision.


ABOVE: This shed full of old tractors and farm equipment would already have been a lovely image, but seeing it with rain pouring off it’s roof under leaden skies, evoked a whole lot more about remoteness, solitude, the passing of time.

Just the other day, Lee, Rebecca and Jessica were booked to head out on an all day exploration of our landscapes. When the day began with a layer cloud layer blanketing the Queenstown basin, they were concerned the day would be ruined. I assured them there were plenty of options to head away from the worst weather and to use the conditions creatively to find new and surprising views.

From Queenstown we drove 10 minutes out of town, climbing the winding road toward Coronet Peak, turning off at Skippers Saddle to take in one of the great adventure drives – into the wild and precipitous Skippers Canyon. Here where a dirt track barely wide enough for one car snakes around vertical corners and the view drops away hundreds of feet, clouds and mist moved mysteriously between jagged crags and crazy rock formations. Haze and mist in the air creates an amazing layering effect which enhances scale and distance in a mountainous region like this.


CLOCKWISE FROM BOTTOM LEFT: Morning light breaks through low cloud over Lake Wakatipu with Queenstown Hill in the foreground; Sunlight catches the ridges of exposed strata in Skippers Canyon; Mist surrounds Lighthouse Rock, one of a number of rock ridges and tors in Skippers. (Note the size of people on the rock)

For the second half of our day, we headed east through old gold mining towns, Cromwell and Bannockburn, climbing again to the barren, cloudscape of the upper Nevis Valley, a high alpine plain populated by the odd sheep and studded with bizarre rock tors, looking like the remains of an ancient alien city. Here, at Duffers Saddle, the highest point on a public road in New Zealand, the low cloud drifted eerily between giant ghostly towers of rock. Driving further into the valley, the fog blew away to reveal the black crags of the Remarkable Rage, a backdrop for some incredible cloud formations caught in the light of the afternoon sun.


ABOVE: At Duffers Saddle, the highest point on a public road in New Zealand, the gang celebrate a great day.

Lee and his family came away from the day with a collection of images far removed from the expected, picture postcard shots of bright blue skies and lakes and a feeling of having had a true Kiwi adventure.


ABOVE: The descent in to the wild Nevis Valley, where, over a century ago, hardy fortune hunters fought to find gold. Now, only a few sheep graze, as hawks wheel overhead, overseen by the black crags of The Remarkables mountain range.




Martin Kohn
Martin Kohn

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