Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Back to Christchurch

Sorry I haven't posted anything in awhile, but I finally got through Day 5. We spent most of day 5 on the road, the cross country/island drive from Lake Wanaka to the east back to Christchurch. We only made a few stops along the way, but we drove through some amazing landscapes in New Zealand from the barren wasteland (as seen in the final battle for Gondor in Return of the King) to the grassy plains perfect for sheep farming. But overall, Milford sound was definitely the climax of the entire trip and everything since then is just going down hill. I still felt I got a few good shots in, but mostly thanks to HDR and post processing... less thanks to the natural beauty of New Zealand like previous days.

The morning started off early for me as I got up extra early to catch sun rise but it was still pretty cloudy. After breakfast we got some time to walk around the shores of Lake Wanaka and I finally got to explore the vineyards next to where I took the star photos during the previous night. When I got to the vineyard, I was really intrigued by the numbers identifying the rows so I snapped this photo.



It was originally an HDR but I didn't like the fake look of it so I decided to desaturate the image and add a lot more warmth (yellow) to create the almost monotone image. Some minor touch up on the pole to accentuate the 43. I think I just like the perspective of it, the repeating pattern of the poles getting smaller as well as each row leading away from you leading into the background.

The next image was taken at Lake Pukaki. The weather was pretty terrible with gray bland overcast sky not giving me anything to work with. But the lake had really beautiful rocky shores along with this amazing blue water (thanks to the glaciers). In order to bring out the details in the rocks and not blow out the sky, I had to use HDR... I played a bit with the effect this time creating a more storybook fantasy feel (actually it really reminds me of those motivational posters...). I hope you don't mind me taking some liberty with the effects.



The next image is probably one of my favorites from the trip, a photo of The Church of Good Shepherd at Lake Tekapo (one of the most photographed landmarks in all of New Zealand). Again, I had to use HDR to really bring out the details as the sky was just a boring gray.



This was the exact image I wanted when I first saw the church... for some reason I just had this image in my mind, a low super wide angle shot of the church, exaggerating it a bit against the background a plain small church look even more amazing set against the cloudy/dark sky. I actually waited for close to 10 mins for all the visitors to clear the area (it is a heavily visited site, so tour bus after tour bus would drop people off). I was really fortunate that there was this small pause in people visiting the church for me to snap a few quick photos of the church, un-disturbed (needless to say people in my tour were less than happy with me as they all sat waiting in the tour bus way off in the distance there). I used this photo as the October photo in my calendar, titled "Shelter of Hope". The name was partly inspired by the local artist (Esther Hope) whose sketches were the basis for the actual church, but it is also about how this image made me feel. In many ways churches, more specifically religion/faith, provides a shelter for us against the storms and turmoil we face in life. They not only give us shelter, but strength and hope to face each day, knowing that the storm will pass and a the skies will be clear one day. This is how the image made me feel.

As usual, the full album can be found on my picasa web gallery or here: http://picasaweb.google.com/pingc315/NZTripDay5LakeWanakaToChristchurch?feat=directlink

A couple more interesting photos below:
From Lindis Pass, near where the battle for Gondor was filmed.




Of course you can't have NZ album without sheep and alpacas. SO cute!





Finally image of Christchurch Cathedral in Christchurch