I have just been over to the West Coast for a couple of weekend trips. It is appealing to those of us living in Christchurch to experience the contrast between the two coasts. While Canterbury is dry, the West Coast is usually very wet. The sea is calm on our side, with plenty of swimming beaches. On the Coast, it is rough, often a boiling cauldron that deters anyone from approaching, let alone entering the surf. Even under deceptively calm conditions there are strong undertows, swirling currents and rogue waves that have caught many unawares.
My two weekends were contrasting, too. Hokitika was so clear and sunny that New Zealand’s highest peaks, Mts Cook and Tasman, stood out from afar. The sky was overcast while were staying in Punakaiki, with the odd light shower of rain. It was pleasant enough to be outside photographing most of the time, though; nothing like the ferocious storm that battered the East Coast, wrecked bridges and roads, inundating farmland and urban areas alike while we were blissfully unaware of the devastation happening on the opposite coast. Christchurch generally receives 650 mm rain each year; this figure is 3000 mm on the West Coast. During the storm, touted as a one in a hundred year event, Christchurch received 150 mm in just 3 days, while in the hill country behind the city rainfall was more than 500 mm during the same period. The rain has now stopped, but rivers continue to run high and cleaning up and repair work has barely begun. I am still waiting to find out whether the roads will be open for my next trip out of town.
Recently a friend introduced me to a slow motion app for my phone, which I played while I was away, trying to discover what works and what doesn’t. This is still a work in progress, but here are two examples, the first from Hokitika, the second from Punakaiki.
I have discovered that I like the effect of using infrared to photograph in cemeteries. Somehow, the technique seems to suit the mood of these places. This image is from Naseby.
The light coloured path through the centre of the image seems an appropriate route to be taken by the resident ghosts. Misty conditions accentuated the ‘other worldly’ feel to this image. The trees are less substantial when their foliage is reproduced in lighter tones. Turning slightly to the left at the end of the path, the space between the trees indicates to me a route into the unknown.
Recently I have been using monochrome much more to interpret landscapes. Although colour is assumed to add life and vibrancy to an image, black and white is simpler and in some ways easier to work with. I think this preference for black and white was enhanced as I began to dabble in infrared photography. There needs to be adequate contrast for monochrome to be effective, but textures become more expressive. I use Nik Silver Efex Pro to transform my colour images. Dust spots are a scourge; they show up so much more in these images. I hope that I have removed them all here.
I made this image of Mt Cook, or Aoraki, (the highest point in New Zealand) during a clearing storm. The green foliage in the foreground was distracting in the colour image and the sky is more dramatic after the Nik transformation.