South Island Journey for UK Times
For a couple of days I flew in a small plane with journalist Damien Barr and pilot Richard Kennard… click to go to article
Christchurch Airport Mackenzie Country Night Sky Airbridge
The latest airbridge completed for Christchurch Airport is the Mackenzie night sky. This was one of the most challenging airbridge installations to date. Night sky photography pushes the capabilities of cameras and lenses to their limits. The images also needed to be good enough to be printed to 2.8 metres high. I enlisted the help of Fraser Gunn, a specialist astrophotographer from Tekapo, who supplied lens heaters (to keep dew from forming on lenses), telescopes and tracking mechanisms. Fraser was very generous with his time and expertise. If you happen to be travelling through Tekapo, I thoroughly recommend booking one of Fraser’s small group night sky photography tours: http://www.astrophotography.co.nz/html/lesson.html
The photography was shot over two trips totalling around 11 nights. The phase of the moon, clear skies, and windless nights, were just some of the aspects that needed to line up to make the photography successful. Some things were hard to plan for – like the army sending up flares from behind Lake Alexandrina on one particularly clear night. No point in complaining about that one. One night we had a reasonable fall of snow, which meant the foreground was much clearer in the photographs for a few nights afterwards. I also hauled some gear up to Mueller Hut above Mount Cook Village for one night’s shoot.
The installation is over 30 metres long and includes many tiny lights in the ceiling to give the feel of a night sky. Jean Michel Jarre’s Oxygene Part 4 is the soundtrack that plays as you walk down the airbridge. I think I had that album back in the day (the 70s).
Westland Dairy Products Landscape Photo Shoot
Just before winter really set in I completed a landscape photo shoot for Westland Milk Products under the direction of Robert Jamieson from Q Brand Agency. As always, it was a pleasure to work with the team at Q.
The photography included locations in Canterbury, and the West Coast – as far south as Fox Glacier and north to Greymouth. Several trips and a helicopter ride were timed with an eye on the weather forecast, which is tricky on the Coast (there is a reason it is so green over there).
On an assignment like this, more time is spent researching locations than actual shooting. In fact, the success of the shoot depends on the research. When the lighting is good it pays to know the area, so you are at the best locations and can move quickly from one viewpoint to another; or have backup locations in case the first choice doesn’t work out. The middle part of the day, when the lighting is usually at its worst, is a good time to do reconnaissance.
I got to meet a few farmers along the way and, without exception, they were helpful and accommodating. I don’t envy their job, it’s a mucky business with awful hours. Talking of muck, with a noisy water pump causing concern I nursed my car back to Christchurch after the final shoot. The garage had to keep the car for longer than expected, so as to steam clean their way through the accumulated cow manure to access the problem!