NZICESCAPES IMAGES

Coastal

Whanganui Inlet on West Coast of New Zealand

Pastel colours of sunset over Whanganui Inlet on west coast with alpine vegetation, Nelson Region, West Coast, South Island, New Zealand

Pastel colours of sunset over Whanganui Inlet on west coast with alpine vegetation, Nelson Region, West Coast, South Island, New Zealand

There are many things that I like about this area; total lack of people is one of them.
Apart from a few farming vehicles, it will still surprise you when you meet with another freedom traveller heading towards you on this wonderfully narrow, dusty road.
Another nice thing is a beautiful silence. More often than not, in coastal areas you can hear boats’ engines reeving up but very seldom here…only birds echo through the air. But the main thing I’d like to point out here is my favourite one – it’s all about native bush here.
Not like in the Marlborough Sounds where sadly, as far as you can see, there is always a pine grove in a view, spoiling these beautiful Sounds. Luckily some great work is being done to eradicate this trees from these hills where they don’t belong.
In Whanganui however, no pines at all. You’re surrounded only by native coastal forest just like what it was hundreds of years ago. …and that’s something we must treasure dearly.

Pastel colours of sunset over Whanganui Inlet on west coast with alpine vegetation, Nelson Region, West Coast, South Island, New Zealand

Thank you and Enjoy!


West Coast kayaking Magic!

Sunset scene with kayak in Okarito Lagoon, Westland National Park, West Coast, World Heritage Area, South Westland, New Zealand

Sunset scene with kayak in Okarito Lagoon, Westland National Park, West Coast, World Heritage Area, South Westland, New Zealand

When we, photographers, set our minds on one image it’s all too easy to forget about what’s happening around us. We have this magical scene in front of us, the light is changing fast, the heart is pumping with excitement so no wonder it can slip from our minds that there may be another magic happening behind our backs. In my case, I can get too concentrated on my photograph in front of me, that I don’t pay enough attention to what’s happening behind me…but I’ve learned this lesson number of times and am now much more careful not to miss an opportunity for some other photograph then to what I set my mind on.

Saying that though, I still do think that concentration on making a photograph you came for should be priority, as I’ve also experienced this in a hard way, that if we want too much, we often end up with average, missing on the best moment on the intended image.

This photograph of kayak perfectly reflecting in sheets of gold light on a still Okarito Lagoon on the West Coast in New Zealand is a perfect example of an opportunity when you got your main frame in a bag and are hungry for more!

Kayak reflecting in Okarito Lagoon at sunset, Westland National Park, West Coast, World Heritage Area, New Zealand

Photograph ©Petr Hlavacek – nzicescapes.com


Coastal scenery from Okarito Lagoon in New Zealand

Pastel colours of twilight over Southern Alps with Mt. Cook and Mt. Tasman from Okarito Lagoon, Westland National Park, West Coast, World Heritage Area, South Westland, New Zealand

Pastel colours of twilight over Southern Alps with Mt. Cook and Mt. Tasman from Okarito Lagoon, Westland National Park, West Coast, World Heritage Area, South Westland, New Zealand

It’s hard to describe my feelings when I’m at pristine places like Okarito on the West Coast in New Zealand with its surrounding lagoons, wetlands and wild beaches. Without wanting to be too sentimental, I just can’t help it to say that my heart is always up my throat, filled with joy how beautiful this place is.
Regardless of the time of the day, you always can make a wonderful photograph in Okarito. For me though, my time I love to photograph is when the sun is near the horizon and the light orchestrates its play around you. Once the sun dips below horizon, the air fills up with pastel hues of pinks and purples, contrast balances out, remoteness with silence all around makes me feel this place belongs just to me….and it’s then, when photographs like this can be made.

Dusk at Okarito Lagoon with views of the Southern Alps on horizon, West Coast, Westland National Park, World Heritage Area, South Westland, New Zealand

Thank you for checking in and Enjoy!

Image ©Petr Hlavacek – nzicescapes.com


Winter in Milford Sound in Fiordland, New Zealand

Milford Sound with Mitre Peak with dramatic skies before sunset, Fiordland National Park, Southland, World Heritage Area, New Zealand

Milford Sound with Mitre Peak with dramatic skies before sunset, Fiordland National Park, Southland, World Heritage Area, New Zealand

Last week I got back home from my winter trip to Fiordland National Park, Milford Sound Fiordland in New Zealand and what a wonderful trip it was!

I visited many locations, the iconic ones as well as number of new spots, which I scouted out on my last visit over a year ago.

Although the rain pinned me down for few days, I couldn’t wish for better weather, really. Well, I say “pinned down” but the rain didn’t stop me from exploring for new spots I might use on my next visit.
The other advantage of the incoming rain, next to doing other useful photography things such as location scouting, is that there is always great cloudy sky to be photographed before you get drenched…and when there is some wonderful backdrop as well, and there is no shortage of them in Milford Sound, it seems like a perfect recipe for a nice photograph.

Mitre Peak in Milford Sound with sun rays penetrating the sky, Fiordland National Park, Southland, New Zealand

Thanks for checking in and Enjoy!

Image ©Petr Hlavacek – nzicescapes.com


Photographing on Banks Peninsula

Rolling mist over hills of Banks Peninsula at sunset, Canterbury, New Zealand

Rolling mist over hills of Banks Peninsula at sunset, Canterbury, New Zealand

It’s interesting what pressure can produce.

Last several days I spent photographing Banks Peninsula near Christchurch. I wasn’t alone as I had a pleasure to drive peninsula’s roads and run the hills with one of the best polar – mountain photographer, not only in New Zealand but worldwide, Colin Monteath.
We had a great fun scouting places and looking for new spots to photograph.

Anyways; on one of the evenings, waiting for the sunset at a previously scouted location, the clouds kept hanging on and on and on, so we faced a decision – either to risk that the clouds open up the valley below or not, returning home empty handed.

As the situation erred on the side of clouds sticking around for the night, we quickly decided to move on and hurried to find re-placing frame for the photograph we could make.
It didn’t look very good and we were becoming reconciled that it’s going to be a dry evening but after some running around we came across this magical frame. It was just for a short moment but well worth the rush.

I love the beautifully soft hues of colours reflected from the sky in the rolling mist, as the sun sets on the West Coast.
Suddenly it felt like in Tuskany….

This photograph of Rolling mist over hills of Banks Peninsula at sunset, Canterbury, New Zealand is not online yet, but feel free to check our other images from similar locations under this link.

Photo: ©Petr Hlavacek – www.nzicescapes.com

Thank you and Enjoy!


Kaikoura Coastline

Pastel colours of dawn on rocky shores of Kaikoura coastline with Seaward Kaikouras mountains in background, Kaikoura, Marlborough Region, South Island, East Coast, New Zealand

Pastel colours of dawn on rocky shores of Kaikoura coastline with Seaward Kaikouras mountains in background, Kaikoura, Marlborough Region, South Island, East Coast, New Zealand

Kaikoura in New Zealand is world wide known for its incredibly rich marine wildlife. People from all over the world come to see this abundance of life of the sea Kaikoura has on offer, but it’s not only marine species which draw the crowds here, it’s also very picturesque, rocky coastline with abruptly rising ranges of Seaward Kaikouras mountains, dominating the background of most photographs from this area… and just like in this photo, as well.

The northern side of Kaikoura Peninsula offers an amazing array of limestone rock formations, from smooth rock platforms to very sharp, jugged rocks, all serving as great anchoring foregrounds for any photograph.
I discovered this location the evening before and visualised how this scene would look like in pre-dawn light. In my mind, I saw these wonderful pastel colours and by long exposure smoothed off sea with only razor sharp, jugged rocks sticking out.. I couldn’t wait to come back the following morning!

Pastel colours of dawn on rocky shores of Kaikoura coastline with Seaward Kaikouras mountains in background, Kaikoura, Marlborough Region, South Island, East Coast, New Zealand


New Stock Images from Golden Bay and Mt. Cook NP!

Stock Images from Golden Bay, Nelson Region, South Island, New Zealand

Stock Images from Golden Bay, Nelson Region, South Island, New Zealand

It’s been a while since my last images release last September, yes, time passes by fast, and I wasn’t wasting my time.

Rather, it was the opposite. I spent quite some time on the road chasing the light and visiting many new places, as well as going back to those favourite ones.

New locations in magnificent Mt. Cook National Park has been visited, stunning beach of Totaranui, Wharariki and much, much more fell a target of my camera…and then, long days were spent in office processing and uploading all those image files onto our stock site.

As a result, you can now found several hundreds of new photos added and spread throughout galleries on our website and where they are now all available for licensing.

To view samples of these new images showcasing coastal areas of Golden Bay on top of the South Island, as well as new locations in Mt. Cook National Park and Abel Tasman National Parks , plus much more, please visit our image gallery New Stock Coastal and Mountains Images from Totaranui, Wharariki, West Coast, Mt. Cook and Abel Tasman NP .

All Photos: ©Petr Hlavacek – www.nzicescapes.com

Thank you and Enjoy!


New photos from Catlins, Otago Peninsula, Moeraki Boulders

Images from Southland

Stock Images from Catlins, Dunedin, Otago Peninsula and Moeraki Boulders in New Zealand

It’s been quite a long time since I’ve visited Southland of New Zealand.
After acquiring our new 36MPix camera, it wasn’t too hard to make a decision that now is a right time to go and re-visit this “on the southerly edge” part of South Island. And what a trip it was!

I spend one week in the area, catching up with places like Waipapa and Slope Points with its sea lions and lighthouse, Curio Bay and petrified forest, Nugget Point, through to Otago Peninsula and up to ever popular Moeraki Boulders. These were the main targets of my trip but there was a lot and lot of photography in between. Luckily, all main locations are not too far apart so I didn’t have to spend that much time on long distance transfers…but still, I clocked up a few kilometers.

This corner of New Zealand lies in a kinda shadow of other popular places but it certainly doesn’t deserve that. It’s absolutely beautiful and as always with New Zealand scenery – totally different…and how much I love that!!! Therefore, if you consider holidaying in South Island of New Zealand, make sure you pay visit to the southern most part of mainland, by the Antarctic weather lashed – The Southland. You won’t be disappointed.

You can see small samples right above but for more and larger previews, please visit coastal gallery on our site or use the following link –

Coastal photos from Catlins, Dunedin, Otago Peninsula, Moeraki Boulders and much more.

All photos: ©Petr Hlavacek – www.nzicescapes.com

Thank you and Enjoy!


Petrified Forest at Curio Bay

Fossilized tree trunk at Curio Bay, Southland, New Zealand

Fossilized tree trunk at Curio Bay after sunset, Southland, New Zealand

It is quite hard to imagine that this place once used to be a thriving forest.
Until about 180 million years ago when New Zealand was still part of a super continent Gondwana. Massive event of sheet flooding caused by, at that time nearby live volcanoes, flooded the area and almost instantly turned the forest into stone. Stone turning must have happened relatively quickly, in matter of months, as the trees didn’t have time to decay. Thanks to silica minerals not only trees but also ferns were preserved for us to wonder over.

This is a significant coastal location not only for New Zealand but also internationally, as these types of fossilized forests are very rare.

I had this location in my mind for quite some time, as I wanted to get some new photographs of this interesting place so it was for sure that Curio Bay gets included into my Southland trip. I spend a couple of nights her, exploring around and managed to make a few images.

I have quite few interesting frames from here actually, but it was the mood and gloominess of this night photograph which I like and decided to make a post of it.

I hope you’ll like it as well!

Taken with Nikon D800E and Nikkor 16-35 f4 lens.

Photo: ©Petr Hlavacek – www.nzicescapes.com

This image is not online yet, but you can find more of other coastal imagery in our gallery Coastal photos of New Zealand

Thank you and Enjoy!


Nikau Palms of New Zealand

Nikau palms in Punakaiki, Paparoa National Park, West Coast, New Zealand

Nikau palms in Punakaiki, Paparoa National Park, West Coast, New Zealand

One of several distinctive trees in New Zealand are Nikau Palms. These palm are endemic to New Zealand and grow in abundance in warm, coastal forests on the North Island.
In several grows, they are also scattered on the South Island, as well. Some of those spots on the Mainland is Nelson area and places on Banks Peninsula near Christchurch. On the West Coast you can see these beautiful, juicy green Nikau grows near Karamea on top of the West Coast, in Punakaiki and some are even occurring as far south as Okarito.
They grow up to 15m tall, with fronds up to 3m long.

Thanks to their distinctive, sharp look and vibrant green colours, these beautiful palms are great subject to photograph. The best time to photograph them is on dull, overcast day and ideally after the rain, which adds the extra shine and deepens the colours.
It is often said to use polarizing filter to get rid of reflections but in this case I prefer no polarizer at all.

It’s that shiny wet and cold dark green colour which make this photograph for me.

This photo was taken in Punakaiki with Nikon D800E and Nikkor 24-70 f2.8 lens.

Photo: ©Petr Hlavacek – www.nzicescapes.com

More images of Nikau Palms in New Zealand are available from our gallery Nikau Palms Stock Photos from native forests of West Coast of New Zealand

Thank you and Enjoy!


Wild West Coastline!

Sunset and limestone formation in Punakaiki, Paparoa National Park, West Coast, New Zealand

Sunset and limestone formation in Punakaiki, Paparoa National Park, West Coast, New Zealand

During past several months I’ve been making regular-ish trips to one of the popular coastal locations on West Coast of the South Island in New Zealand, to famous Pancake Rocks in Punakaiki, in Paparoa National Park.
These amazing, “pancake layered” limestone formations were created some 30 million years ago. Formed from dead marine creatures and plants about 2 km below the surface, immense water pressure transformed these marine fragments into hard and soft layers, which were then by tectonic activity lifted above sea level. The weather elements have been doing the rest – shaping these rocks into wonderful limestone formations.

Last week I got back from my last trip, for a while at least, and what a trip that was.
I was able to reach some secret but dangerous spots but I wouldn’t recommend to follow this, especially if you don’t know the area and potential hazards… and this goes to this image in particular.
The constant danger of unpredictable waves and falling rocks kept me alerted at all times and my senses were all over me. I waited away from this place for the right moment to come and gave myself only a couple of minutes for the shot before I backed off to the safe side.

I’ve had this photograph on my mind for a long time. I kept coming back to see variety of light on this spot during last 12 months and it was so tantalizing that I couldn’t resist this evening. My waiting was over as all the elements I was after came spectacularly together – amazing light hitting right place, out of this world limestone formations and shapes with drama of incoming tide.

I couldn’t have been happier!

This image is not online yet but for more and similar coastal images from New Zealand, please visit our photo stock gallery Coastal Stock Images from West Coast of New Zealand

Pancake Rocks in Punakaiki, Paparoa National Park, West Coast, New Zealand

Nikon D800E with Nikkor 16-35 lens


Nikon D800E vs Gradual ND filters?

Punakaiki Coastline

Weathered limestone formations in Punakaiki, Paparoa National Park, West Coast, New Zealand

Neutral density gradual filters have been an essential accessory tool for every landscape photographer since photography beginnings.
There has been a simple, well known reason for that – it’s been far to impossible for the film to record some particular scenes landscape photographer can often face – scenes with extremely wide dynamic range. What that is?

Simply put; its the span from the brightest to the darkest points in the scene. And this span can be in nature extremely wide even for the human eye.
Both human eyes working together for example can perceive range of approx up to 24 f-stops. I’m saying working together because should we look only with one eye, the ability of our single eye would drop to between 12-14 f-stops. There is more to this topic but its not a purpose of this post.

Now I’m getting to the core of this article.
With approx 5-8 f-stops, the ability of the film (negative or positive) to record those extreme ends of the light range is quite limited. Some may argue that this goes beyond 8 f-stops but to me, the resulting image quality after adjustments doesn’t support this. Therefore we need to use ND gradual filters to balance out these extreme ends of light closer together so we can capture as much detail of the scene as we can.

With an astonishing development of new cameras, photography techniques are developing and changing, as well.

Since my Nikon D800E arrived, I’m amazed again and again with capabilities of this technical marvel. It’s been said a lot about its DR capabilities, resolution etc but it is only when when you capture your own image and see the result you wouldn’t expect.

On my latest trip I encounter a scene which I decided to bracket exposure on. I took 5 images each with 1 f-stop difference and which I was going to process as HDR (although I’m not an HDR photography guy, I have to admit). I opened those files in LR4 and then processed them as HDR image. Well, like I said, I’m not an HDR kinda guy…image was ok but I didn’t like all that fuzziness in clouds and other artifacts which occur with HDR. Don’t get me wrong please, I’m not against HDR, but you got to have right image for it to work.
Anyway, then I though why not to try to process a single file from a stack with best suitable exposure using new LR4 and to compare results.
Well, when I did that, I immediately deleted the HDR version without even a blink of an eye. The result out of D800 are just amazing.

I used only 2 sliders – highlights and shadows. I didn’t even need to go all the way with either of them. With highlights slider I landed on 70 and with shadows on 70 also to be happy with adjustment.
One may object, ok but what about image quality, noise, sharpness, artifacts etc…well, judge for yourself below.

In my photography, I’m producing imagery which has to be suitable for printing. Suitable for printing large and I mean LARGE. Our images have been reproduced in sizes of up to 15m so it is my foremost objective to produce images in the highest quality possible.
With this in mind, I’d be more then happy to let this file to be blown up big.

Below, there are 2 images – first compares look on the entire image before and after adjustments.
The second comparison shows a crop out of the same images at 100%.

Punakaiki Photo

Untouched, out of camera file on left and highlights/shadows adjusted on right.

At small sizes many images look fine but the problems creep in when enlarged for printing. But that’s not the case with D800 files.
If exposed ideally with view in mind of further adjustments on file, note I’m not saying exposed correctly, and processed with care, the file looks amazing.
You would be hard pressed to actually find an issue with it. To my huge surprise, I can’t find any sign of any noise in the lifted up shadows. Image remains sharp with enough contrast and without any artifacts.

Please note that this file was taken as a single RAW file with no filter used.
It has 0 sharpening applied, no contrast, no noise reduction, chromatic aberration correction or any other adjustments apart of for this purpose lifted shadows and corrected highlights.

The lens for this shot used – Nikkor 16-35 with camera mounted on tripod.
Exposure 1/10s at f16, ISO100, -1EV for exposure compensation.

This second comparison shows a crop out of the same images at 100%.
Adjusted file for highlights and shadows on left – untouched out of camera on right.

Artifacts can often creep in after sharpening is applied. To show how this file holds up after a medium sharpening was applied, see the same crop below.

Punakaiki Photo

Nice and crisp detail without any sign of noise.

So what remains to be said;
Firstly, this post is only my personal opinion based on findings I’m getting with this fantastic camera.
Secondly, the purpose of this writing is to ponder over the use of Gradual ND filters or use HDR techniques while shooting with latest wave of digital cameras, especially with Nikon D800 with its DR of 14.4 f-stops. More on this you can read on DxO website.

Yes, there definitely will be a need for ND Gradual filters for some time yet. However, what I’m now certain of is that I’ll be thinking twice or tree times when I’ll be reaching for my filter, as I’ll be avoiding putting an extra layer of glass or plastic in front of my lenses every time I can.

I’d be happy if this quick comparison would help to those photographers still on a fence…upgrade or not…?

Thanks and Enjoy!


Once more from Punakaiki!

Beautiful limestone pools at sunset in Punakaiki, Paparoa National Park, West Coast, New Zealand

Beautiful limestone pools at sunset in Punakaiki, Paparoa National Park, West Coast, New Zealand

As I’ve been processing new images for our next upload, which happened last week, I just can’t go by and not to share with you one more frame from Punakaiki coast.

It is also from the area of limestone pools I photographed after the sun went down.
On my first visit, I pre-visualized all these pools playing with colours as the sun goes down so you can easily imagine how excited I was now when I saw all those coloured reflections around me when shooting time came.

With my camera solid on the tripod and mirror locked up, I decided to leave polarizing filter on as I wanted to get both versions – with colourful skies reflecting in water and without reflections, showing the shapes and forms hidden under the water.
Here I’m posting image without polarizer working. Image gained interesting contrast of nice colder blue hues from the sky reflecting in the pool to the warm tones of twilight colours.

You can see polarized version of the same frame on our site by visiting STOCK gallery “NEW IMAGES”.

Thank you and Enjoy!


Limestone pools in Punakaiki

Seewed in limestone pool at sunset in Punakaiki, Paparoa National Park, West Coast, New Zealand

Seewed in limestone pool at sunset in Punakaiki, Paparoa National Park, West Coast, New Zealand


Just a few days ago I came back from my another trip in Paparoa National Park on the West Coast of New Zealand.
On my last, mostly scouting visit, I found several locations I’ve been eager to photograph. The amazing limestone formations can stir your imagination quite well.
I had this frame in my head for quite some time so I waited for the right conditions of the right tide with some clouds and colour in the sky.
This beautiful pool with green seaweed in it together with an amazing ornamentation on the rock’s surface suggested for this beautiful photograph. Using ND Gradual filters was necessary to balance out bright skies against dark foreground and, to let the greens of seaweed shine.
Needless to say, there is much more awaiting to be captured, and my pre-visualization of other frames can’t stop.
That means I’m already planing my next trip to this location to be very soon.

I’m thrilled with this capture and I hope you’ll like it too!
Cheers and Enjoy!