The Story

I was in New Zealand filming a new Landscape Photography tutorial series with the Visual Wilderness Team and we just finished a morning of filming. When I was reviewing and sorting all the footage on the laptop while we were travelling in the camper van to the next location.


When Brent said "Mate we're here", I looked up and I saw Jay and Varina marching down the path with their camera bags and tripods in hand. I didn't even realised where we were and Brent said again  "Bro Wanaka tree" as it dawned on me, I dumped my laptop on the seat of the camper, grabbed my camera gear and bolted for the lake, you could say I was excited.


First Look at the Tree in Magical Light

As I caught up to Jay and Varina, Guru J said, "Johny the light is perfect right now"  and he was right. As we got to the lake shore, there it was the famous Wanaka Tree and what perfect timing, the clouds were awesome, there was snow on the distant peaks, autumn colours on the trees and a good reflection on the lake. I was PUMPED!!!

What I Learnt (The Photography Tips)

Be careful with long shutter speed when shooting reflections. 

If I chose a long shutter for this capture, the water would be even more flat and calm then it was in the final image, but the problem you get with a longer shutter is that the brilliant reflection of the tree would be distorted and you'd lose the defined clear reflection. Which personally is one of my favourite parts of the image.

Wait for the light.

The clouds were moving fast in the sky, causing the light to change every few minutes.  I had to Be patient and wait till the light is just perfect. Running off to a new location too early, you might just miss that perfect shot. By all means while you're waiting for the light, try a few compositions to find your favourite and then wait for the clouds to give you that beautiful soft light.

Commonly Shot Locations

Yes, the Wanaka tree is frequently photographed, you could say even over photographed, but it's a location I've had on my bucket list to visit and capture. My advice for these types of locations is to shoot it and try and make the image thats uniquely yours. Do the research, look through heaps of images and make a mental note of how you are going to capture the scene. Enjoy the experience, capture the memory and share it with others to inspire and motivate them.

How This Image Was Created

This image was processed from a single shot in Lightroom. I used bracketing, which you could argue for this shot wasn't needed but the sun was making regular appearances with the clouds moving so fast and increasing the dynamic range, so bracketing helped capture all the light when the sun appeared.

I ended up using the -1 stop image for this, as the highlights in the top left corner were blown out with the normally exposed image. Then it was just a matter of opening up the shadows and slightly pulling back the highlights to balance the image in Lightroom.

I was using a 24-70mm lens so it wasn't super wide,  I felt that I wanted to get a bit of a compression trying to pull the background forward in the frame a little. I also reduce a little bit of noise in the shadows, caused from the -1 stop under exposed image and added the regulary sharpening and masking.

I also did global adjustments on the image temp to cool it down, which was closer to how I remembered the scene. In doing that the autumn colours got too cold for my liking so I used the brush tool in Lightroom to paint some warm tones back into those areas. That's about all I did to get the final image.


Image Details

1/3s - f16 - ISO 50 - 24mm - Boots wet YES 🙂

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