Travels - Up The Mountain

OK, not very far UP the mountain, but still up the mountain.

One blustery morning, at 6.30am I set off. I would like to say this was because as a photographer I was dedicated to capturing the Golden Hour however to be honest I really wanted to get away from the snoring.

It’s the opposite of the bagpipes. Bagpipes are just lovely when they stop. Snoring is faintly irritating when it’s carrying on but the real pearler moments come when it stops. Sometimes for 45 seconds at a time. I timed it.

Anyway, I gave up trying to work out if I could make an improvised defibrillator from the table lamp and braved the mountain instead.

This image shows Mount Taranaki, far right arrow is the location of Stratford Mountain Lodge, and far left arrow is the location I managed to get to before turning back.

Not very impressive, is it? However on this image, the brown bit is pretty much the snow line in winter, so I’m higher than you think.

So, a couple of new experiences for me. Firstly I think I redefined the concept of Point and Shoot photography. A camera with a completely manual wide angle lens, howling winds, and sideways gusts of rain. Set the focus point to somewhere short of infinity, guess the exposure level, whip the lens cap off, take a shot blindly into nothingness, wipe the rain off before slamming the lens cap back on again.

This shot below shows the true magic of using Lightroom to rescue what you get when you take that type of shot. Before and After…

Seriously - who would think? This is the view towards Stratford from the high car park on Taranaki.

Secondly, changing lenses in high winds was also quite a challenge. I tried to use the car as a ‘safe zone’, I thought I was doing quite well, standing in the passenger doorway and changing the lens on the passenger seat when the wind caught the door and bounced me straight onto the driver’s seat.

This mountain has its own weather, and it changes by the inch and by the minute. So I got up there in brilliant sunshine, and by the time I’d reached the high car park I was parking the car into the headwind to make sure it didn’t roll over. Squalls of rain passed over the mountain but I was determined to get some shots, and I did get quite a few. Mainly shots with rain all over the lens, so I had to practice trying to shelter by the cliff side, whilst also being very aware of the recent heavy rainfall, the frequent rock falls, and getting blown off the mountain.

I didn’t get a completely clear shot of the mountain but I think in many ways it is more atmospheric if you don’t. The night shot that started the last blog was very clear, but it somehow makes the mountain look small. I guess that’s something to do with framing it with the Milky Way.

Another Before and After shot. Amazing what you can recover, isn’t it?

So I left the car and headed further up the mountain towards the flying fox. The following sign was not terribly encouraging.


Not terribly encouraging…

I spent what I thought was about half an hour up the mountain, but returned, as it turned out, two and a half hours later. This is a timeless mountain, it would be such heaven to live in the shadow of it.

And finally, saying goodbye. This is the second day, just about to head out - the first photo is Mount Ruapehu, 270 kilometres and four hours drive away.