Tuesday, April 7, 2015

First release from New Zealand series: "Ancient Congregation" by D. "Bodhi" Smith

Entitled "Ancient Congregation", here is my newest release--the very first composition in my series from New Zealand. !!Click on this image to see the full version...it's another tall panoramic!!

I had a 2 night and 3 day stay in the middle of the South Island in a small town called Wanaka.The location of this village is central and really close to a lot of different things giving me a wide of range of subjects which I can go shoot, especially if the weather changes giving me a lot of different options to turn to. And in the long run, things worked out very well for me having all these different options at hand choose from...

I came to Lake Wanaka with the full intention to shoot the famous tree that is surrounded by water and has been shot by just about every New Zealander photographer on the island as well as the many thousands of visiting photographers as well. The image in my mind's eye that I had for this tree was really the top photo I wanted to get on my visit to New Zealand. This composition I hoped to capture was the first one I wanted above all others, and I started actually planning the trip around how I was going to give myself the most opportunity to shoot this tree.

Of course, as luck would have it, the area has been experiencing the worst drought on record over the last month and the lake is down over 5 feet...this relationship to the water level basically exposes the tree and it is no longer surrounded by water, which really destroys the composition that I saw in my mind's eye. Total bummer..."it's a bummer, man..." < the voice of The Big Lebowski> It was actually so awful, that I didn't even bother to take my camera out of my backpack to shoot the tree while I stayed here. Because what I like, and what I wanted, did not exist as a result of the crazy extra low level of the lake. When I was planning this trip and scouting the location before I arrived in New Zealand, the lake was at a normal level just a month ago, but now 30 days later, its just pitiful. Kinda reminds me of California with our drought. But hey, it's part of my world as a landscape photographer...gotta have patience. My idea of "Planned Chance" literally in action again, except this time the chance and luck did not go my way--yet, as it turned out.

So, even though I don't live here, I'll just have to come back...something which I definitely have plans to do as the south island of New Zealand has quickly become my second favorite place to be, right up there next to my native home of Southern California. While here so far, I've only been able to catch about 1 out of 5 things that I had on my list to scout, which was honestly as expected. But what I didn't expect was how beautiful everything has been--there truly hasn't been a bad thing on the list. Usually there's a couple duds here and there, you know, things that just don't translate into a good picture...but, wow, this scenery here has been just absolutely phenomenal!

But things in my world do seem to balance out between the negative and the positive in my life...as did happen with me on this occasion. I did not get the picture that I wanted, but I've probably managed to capture something every bit as spectacular, maybe even more. Plus, this scene was actually more difficult to have all the variables to align together correctly all in such a small window that was really only a matter of about 3 hours during my entire stay of 8 days. If even one variable was off, the composition just wouldn't have be possible, and I would have driven for many hours out of the way in the middle the night all for naught.

So, last night I made the decision to go after an image I had in my mind under the stars. Since the weather looked very very good-- in other words, being cold and clear overnight to shoot the Milky Way, I decided to drive 2 hours in the dark on a winding twisting road that I did not know (nor have driven) out to Lake Tekapo. Beside the lake is an old historic building made of stone called the Church of the Good Shepherd. My data had the Milky Way as possibly being positioned over top of the church, which of course as it turned out, it was. And man, the Milky Way is beautiful and full of personality here on this island in the southern hemisphere.

Once I arrived at the church, I chose my position, set up my trusty tripod, selected the settings from my Nikon D800, dialed in my focus on my Nikkor prime 24mm f1.4 lens, created my composition, clicked open the shutter, and 13 seconds later--wow! After taking just a couple snaps, I knew this was going to be something very very special... well worth the long drive in the middle of night, and the frigid chill that was in the air which was freezing me to the bone.

I do not usually post an image when I'm in the middle of a trip, but this composition was one I was really excited about...so, instead of taking a nap during the day as I often do, I decided to process this image at my motel here in Wanaka, New Zealand.

On the long drive back from the church to my room in Wanaka, I had to pull off the road for an hour and sleep because I was so tired. As I was dozing off into my power nap, I decided I was going to edit this image and I already had named it in my mind...the name, "Ancient Congregation" is a title which is really just perfect for this picture. I can imagine the stars banding out over top of the back cross, which seemingly are coming and rising out of the church, as spiritually representing the residual of all the people that have sat in that church over the last couple hundred years. This is a neat ethereal effect in my honest opinion, and I hope you enjoy this as much as I loved capturing this beautiful image.

This capture is actually two images taken consecutively, and then stitched together on top of each other to enable me to get the full colour at the top of the Milky Way which could not be done in just one composition as it was just too tall.

Camera settings: ISO-1250, 24mm at f/1.4 for 13 seconds captured at 4:45am. The church was being illuminated by the lights from the town of Lake Tekapo, so for this composition, I had to use one Lee .3ND Grad Filter inverted upside down (sort of in reminiscence of being in the southern hemisphere I guess) to bring down the church one stop as it was much brighter than the fainter stars the sky I wanted to have in my detail. To get the illumination of the windows from inside the church, I placed my headlamp on low lumens and shown it in through the back window.

If you like my photographic impressions here, please check out all of my work on:
And especially please remember to check out the works of my two friends and fabulous photographers, Chip Morton http://500px.com/Chip_Morton and Jeff Deveau http://500px.com/JeffDeveau , who are also my associates in our workshop endeavor at http://www.californaicaptures.net .

I hope this message and image find you well.

D. " Bodhi "

#Dolica #Tripods #New #Zealand #Tekapo #Church #Good Sheppard #Milky Way #Nightscape #Stars #Lee #Filters #Nikon #D800 #Nikkor #24mm #f1.4 #long exposure #impressionism #expressionism #Bodhi #Smith #photography #landscape #stars #

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