Sunday was a Fieldtrip day with Nature Photographic Society of NZ (or NPS for short). My plan this year is to get out and do more fieldtrips and the local ones around Christchurch I really have no excuse not to go to. And I had seen some great shots of the trees but never been to where they were. The weather was forecast to be potentially quite hot and sunny, so I dressed appropriately but took extras in case that didn’t eventuate.
I guessed how long it would take to get to Little River, and fortunately I had been often enought I was right on time. The light traffic for the time of day (9.30am on a Sunday) probably helped. Our trusty leader Stephen duly arrived and we decanted off into 4WD vehicles as the road was said to be quite steep and shingle all the way. And also had some steep drops on one side, so for my first trip I would prefer to go with someone who was familiar with the way. It is quite a spectacular drive, and you climb up quite high, quite quickly. My ears popped on the way up!
It is not a long drive but it is a very narrow road and I would hate to meet someone coming the other way and have to find room to pass, as there were not a lot of options, and the preferred choice of vehicle on the road seemed to be large SUV. I am grateful that on our trip up and back we didn’t meet any oncoming traffic!
Once we got to the top, we found it was covered in very thick cloud and there was a brisk easterly blowing it over the top. We were breezily assured that it clear soon and off we went. It was pretty with the cloud cover, giving everything an ethereal ghostly look but the further we walked the worse the visibility got. The track is clearly marked with orange pole markers, and helpfully follows the fenceline. Once we had gone on a bit, there were several other first timers as well as myself, and we quickly got very disoriented with a complete lack of reference points to navigate off. I was glad I was in a large group who knew where they were going.
The walk was a good aerobic workout, not being the fittest person I paced myself but found myself lagging a couple of times. But pauses meant I caught up with the group eventually. The stiles were a good pause point, and I was impressed at how sturdy and well built they were. Made clambering over the barbed wire fence a much less painful experience than it would have been. After probably at least half an hours steady walking we arrived to our destination point. By now the visibility had really closed in and right on the top of the ridge we were exposed to the full force of the wind. It was at this point I realised that the spare layers of clothing I had bought in my car……were still in my car…..at the bottom of the hill. And while I was dressed in a few layers it didn’t prevent the wind, and I started to feel quite cold.
Fortunately the fabulously prepared Lesley had a second bag full of clothes, and she kindly kitted me out with a pair of windproof trousers and a jacket. This helped me feel MUCH better and warmer, and I got back into the swing of things. Of course as we broke for lunch the cloud lifted for a bit and the sun came out and we got to see the view, which was quite impressive. From where we were you can see down to either side of the Peninsula, its surprisingly high up.
It made a huge difference with the cloud lifting, changed the whole scale of the graveyard (quite a lot bigger than I realised) and the light difference totally changed the feel of the images I was making. This is my favourite image of the day, I like the detail in the trunk taking up centre stage, but you get a hint of the feel of the graveyard scale with the other trunks in the background
What did I Learn? LOTS!
– if you are going somewhere that the weather is changeable *make sure you TAKE your extra clothes with you*
– on a cloudy day you can still get sunburned – so put sunscreen on your face
– when feeling a bit tired after unexpected exercise, eat something
– photographing in heavy fog/cloud is difficult, the light is well filtered but its hard to expose well against it
– wind is cold, and you need proper gear to protect against it
– fieldtrips are fun
– remember to use your polarising filter when circumstances warrant it
– Stephen’s idea of time is not the same as the rest of us 🙂
– when shooting multiple bracket exposures on a quite windy mountaintop – use your tripod
What did I do right?
– I had plenty of water, tho I was careful in drinking it
– I packed sunscreen even if I didnt use it
– I had an extra layer of clothes (even if in the car)
– I had everything I needed for my camera gear and it was comfortable to carry
– I experimented with shooting HDR to counteract the brightness in the sky
– I had good walking shoes
And most importantly I turned up!