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Posts tagged “photography

Sunset over Southern Alps and Franz Josef Glacier, New Zealand

Vast area of Geikie Snowfield of upper parts of Franz Josef Glacier during setting sun with Mt. Tasman and Aoraki, Mount Cook dominating skyline, Westland Tai Poutini National Park, West Coast, UNESCO World Heritage Area, New Zealand, NZ

Vast area of Geikie Snowfield of upper parts of Franz Josef Glacier during setting sun with Mt. Tasman and Aoraki, Mount Cook dominating skyline, Westland Tai Poutini National Park, West Coast, UNESCO World Heritage Area, New Zealand, NZ

Perhaps everyone knows how glaciers work…a lot of snow (and I mean a lot of it, up to 50m to gain a compressing weight of its own) compacting into the ice with gravity pulling this mass down the hill. It may however be a bit harder for everyone to imagine the scale of the area where all this compacting happens.
Franz Josef Glacier is one of the smaller glaciers by world standards but quite a sizeable chunk of ice in New Zealand landscape.
On this photograph I’ve been hoping to show the vastness of the upper parts of this currently about 10km long glacier. With 2 highest peaks of the New Zealand’s Southern Alps dominating the background – Mount Tasman on far top left 3,497m and highest mountain Aoraki/Mount Cook 3,724m next to it on right, the vastness of the Geikie and Davis Snowfields of the Franz Josef Glacier is quite apparent.
This wonderful scene has been photographed just as the sun was dipping over the horizon of the Tasman Sea on right and I love the beautiful light bouncing over about 30 square km large NEVE in wonderful hues of purple, pink and orange. Hope you enjoy this image, too. Thank you.


What to see in Oparara Valley near Karamea

Moria Gate, limestone formation in Oparara Valley near Karamea, Kahurangi National Park, Buller Region, West Coast, New Zealand

Moria Gate, limestone formation in Oparara Valley near Karamea, Kahurangi National Park, Buller Region, West Coast, New Zealand

Many tourists make a mistake of not taking on the northern part of the West Coast. Often, they would travel as far north as Westport, but leaving out Karamea area.
And that’s a mistake as this region is one of marvels the West Coast has on offer.
Oparara Valley is famous for its lush green rainforest and beautiful orange-brown tannin stained Oparara River but particularly for its famous limestone arches and caves.
One of the easily accessed caves is Moria Gate with Oparara River flowing through it.
The arch itself offers endless photo opportunities but using slow shutter speed enables us to capture wonderful reflections of the cave shapes reflecting into the slowly flowing river.

This is a very easy, short walk from the carpark and everyone visiting this are should come and enjoy tranquility of this wonderful location.
Not like in the 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.

Moria Gate, limestone formation in Oparara Valley near Karamea, Kahurangi National Park, Buller Region, West Coast, New Zealand

Thank you and Enjoy!


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!


Photographing famous waterfalls.

Dorothy Falls near Hokitika with golden light of sunset reflecting in water, West Coast, South Westland, New Zealand

Dorothy Falls near Hokitika with golden light of sunset reflecting in water, West Coast, South Westland, New Zealand

When photographing a well known location or site, it’s always a challenge to come up with a new, fresh composition.
Dorothy Falls near Hokitika on the West Coast of the South Island in New Zealand is a great example.

I have numerous frames of this waterfall with classic compositions but this time I wanted something a little different.
I decided to use a long lens to make a horizontal panorama of this waterfall.
Knowing that there will be some limitations with the depth of field I used focus stacking technique for each of the vertical frame to maintain maximum sharpness from the front to the background.

I’m very pleased with my new take on this notoriously photographed waterfall and hope that you’ll enjoy it, as well.

Dorothy Falls with golden light of sunset reflecting in the water, South Westland, South Island, New Zealand

Thank you for reading 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!


Tasman Glacier in Mt Cook NP

Tasman Glacier and its terminal lake with icebergs and icy debris after massive terminal face calving in 2010 under sunset, Mt. Cook National Park, Mackenzie Country, World Heritage Area, New Zealand

Tasman Glacier and its terminal lake with icebergs and icy debris after massive terminal face calving in 2010 under sunset, Mt. Cook National Park, Mackenzie Country, World Heritage Area, New Zealand

Glaciers around the world are melting and disappearing from World Maps. We are not immune to it as this sad reality is hitting New Zealand as well, and it’s not a nice sight.
The Southern Alps are becoming more and more unstable for alpine activities with increased rock avalanches as the warmer temperatures are melting rock binding ice in lower altitudes then in past.
All this rock avalanche debris falls on the shrinking and narrowing glaciers in valleys below, covering their gasping for breath remnants under layers of rocks.

In case of Tasman Glacier, this is even more evident, as with it’s lengths of 27km now, it is New Zealand’s longest and mightiest glacier…but how long for when its retreat is today estimated to be close to 1 km each year.
In 2010 massive calving event occurred, littering Tasman Glacier terminal lake, non-existent 40 years ago, with tons of ice debris and icebergs.

It’s not every day when event like this happens so I went to check it out myself. When I arrived at the terminal lake near sunset time, the sky suddenly closed up, clouds rolled over my head and it started to snow. The light of the setting sun was penetrating this gentle snowfall, and all Tasman Valley got dressed up in this beautiful pinkish pastel colours…very eerie, moody scene with all the icebergs in the lake…how lucky I was to witness this alone…

Tasman Glacier with its terminal lake after calving at sunset, Mt. Cook National Park, Mackenzie Country, World Heritage Area, New Zealand

Taken with Nikon D300 and Nikkor 24-70mm f2.8 lens


Highest mountains in New Zealand

The Southern Alps

Mt. Cook 3,754m and Mt. Tasman 3,497m, Westland National Park, World Heritage Area, West Coast, New Zealand

I’m sure that every photographer time time struggles with culling similar images down…which one to keep and which to throw into the bin…especially when each of the frame can stand on its own, has it’s own quality and charm?
I’ve always had problems with this but I think I’m getting better at it now.
Time to time however, I find a nut which is hard to crack…like this one.

When I get to this point where I simply am out of breath, I look at it from a different angle and try to find deliberate use of the images for portraying the scene, usually in a different quality light as it passes through… and I’m finding that this works best with scenes with strong and clear compositions and main subject….like this one.

Mt. Cook 3,754m, Mt. Tasman 3,497m of The Southern Alps, Westland National Park, West Coast, World Heritage Area, New Zealand

Taken with Nikon D300 and printed as high quality Fine Poster at 130cm x 60cm approx.

Thank you for visiting and Enjoy!


New Stock Photos from Routeburn Track in New Zealand

Sample Images from Routeburn Track in New Zealand

Sample Images from Routeburn Track in New Zealand

Long days of summer have gone now but I’m really excited (as every year) about approaching winter’s short days and its brilliant photography light. Next to this marvellous light, white peaks around us, late mornings (for sleep in) and early evenings (to catch a dinner without a rush) these are some of few things photographers like about making photographs in winter.

I however do like getting around in summer too and this past summer hasn’t been different for me. After 11 years, I re-visited one of the best locations New Zealand has on offer – the Routeburn Track in Mount Aspiring and Fiordland National Park … and what a fantastic trip I had.

It was a photographic bonanza. The weather stayed on my side, giving me plenty of blue skies and suntan, as well as those magical low clouds around Lake Mackenzie . This was really great as it allowed me to photograph an amazing rainforest surrounding it. The only sad thing was that the bush was bone dry, thus lacking that extra juicy kick and the lake was at its lowest everyone I spoke to could have recalled.
Despite this, I’m very happy with few keepers and I got home with.

For those of you who haven’t made it to Routeburn yet, I hope that these sample photos will help you to make up your mind.

Thanks and Enjoy!


Wild rivers, creeks and streams

Wild Tekano Creek near Douglas Rock Hut in Copland Valley, Westland National Park, West Coast, South Westland, New Zealand

Wild Tekano Creek near Douglas Rock Hut in Copland Valley, Westland National Park, West Coast, South Westland, New Zealand

A week ago I spent several days in one of my favourite areas, in Copland Valley, on the West Coast of the South Island in New Zealand.

Gorgeous Copland River runs through this beautiful valley which is penetrated with side creeks of all sizes; and they all have one thing in common – they are rough and wild.
Since these rivers, creeks and streams are in an area where the rainfall can exceed 500mm in 24hrs, one can only imagine the inferno happening when the heavy rain comes down and those massive boulders of bus sizes tumble down these creeks…

But on calm days, these creeks are not only very beautiful alpine gems to photograph but also great to wash down the blood and sweat from reaching them…not mentioning best water to drink!

Tekano Creek with sun rising on The Sierra Range and Welcome Pass behind, Westland National Park, West Coast, World Heritage Area, New Zealand

Taken with Nikon D800E and Nikkor 16-35mm f4 lens and is a stitch of 2 vertical frames.

Thank you and Enjoy!

For more similar images from this area, please visit our online gallery of Rivers and Creeks.


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!


12 Months in 2012

Here the time comes again.
It seems that this post is developing into regular farewell to the departing year with a look over the shoulder to reflect on what one was up to in the year just gone…and I kinda like it with hope, that our friends and followers might enjoy this showcase as well.
And it was a busy year, I need to say. I travelled around quite a bit, re-visiting places I haven’t been for a decade, but also going new places and therefore it was very exciting year for me indeed.

Lets take a look at January.

I’ve been planning this frame of Franz Josef Glacier with daisies in foreground for a long time but never really happened to be able to go for the shoot in the right time of the year.
Last year I decided that I can’t miss mountain daisies on Alex Knob again. Unfortunately, when I got up the top it got quite breezy around the sunset time so it was quite difficult to get sharp image, as the daisies were moving most of the time. The shutter speed was slow in this low light and I had to improvise and shelter flowers a bit with my pack but with no much success. Eventually that evening, I managed to pull of a couple of sharp frames I’m happy with.

Franz Josef Glacier with mountain daisies as seen from Alex Knob, Westland NP, West Coast, New Zealand

Franz Josef Glacier with mountain daisies as seen from Alex Knob, Westland NP, West Coast, New Zealand

February was a similar story.

Roys Peaks were on my list for a long time, as well and is one of locations I haven’t visited before so I was really excited to go up. The views from there are quite extraordinary and are worth of every drop of sweat…and there is quite a few drops one sheds on way up…
This image is a summer version but I do plan going back around winter time to get a bit of the snow on tops. But in this frame, I really like those pastel colours of twilight together with steel blue lake which is being swept by winds, creating nice pattern on its surface.

Sunset over Lake Wanaka as seen from Roys Peak 1578m, Central Otago, New Zealand

Sunset over Lake Wanaka as seen from Roys Peak 1578m, Central Otago, New Zealand

March

Last year I visited one location more often then others. It was Punakaiki in Paparoa National Park in northern part of the West Coast. Punakaiki is one of those places where inspiration comes in buckets. Being not too far from my home, only about 3 hrs drive, no wonder I gave this place more attention last year and will continue to do so in the future.
Walking among limestone formations in twilight is truly exciting for photographer and one has to really concentrate on what to photograph. There is image everywhere one points the camera at but when I saw this limestone stack with so much detail in right light, the image was decided for me. Especially, when this photograph isn’t so profound like the others from the area.

Pancake rocks - limestone formations on rugged coast in Punakaiki during sunset, Paparoa National Park, West Coast, New Zealand

Pancake rocks - limestone formations on rugged coast in Punakaiki during sunset, Paparoa National Park, West Coast, New Zealand

For April I had planned my trip to Milford Sound.

It’s been soooo long since I was there last time so one can only imagine my hype when I hit the road. It’s a bit of a drive, around 13 hrs from my place but I decided to break the journey up and stayed a few nights in Te Anau, also one of the long over due location for me.
I stayed about a week in Milford as I wanted to do a few side trips as well. And this image is from one of those – Gertrude Saddle.
An easy hike up the saddle gives you an amazing views not only toward the Milford Sound in distance but also over beautiful Darran Mountains you’re totally enclosed by….what a tent door view…

Sunset over Milford Sound as seen in distance from Gertude Saddle, Fiordland NP, Southland, New Zealand

Sunset over Milford Sound as seen in distance from Gertude Saddle, Fiordland NP, Southland, New Zealand

In May I didn’t have to travel far.

Actually, didn’t have to travel at all as one of the best views of the Southern Alps is only a few minutes away from my home – in Okarito.
Oh boy, how much I love this place. I would go up as often as I can as the views from this popular lookout are just magic. I have many frames from this place but I really like this one. It’s not one of those chocolate box like versions and gives you a chill of that raw wintery evening of the rainforest and mountains after sun went behind the horizon.

Mt. Tasman and Mt. Cook behind clouds after sunset in twilight, Westland National Park, West Coast, World Heritage, South Island, New Zealand

Mt. Tasman and Mt. Cook behind clouds after sunset in twilight, Westland National Park, West Coast, World Heritage, South Island, New Zealand

In June, winter picked up its momentum and good dump of snow covered mountains.

And that’s a great time to visit one my another beloved places – Three Mile Lagoon. This time it was even more urging and exciting to go as this was my first shoot with my new 36MP camera. And how happy a man can be…
I have made a similar image before but in different light and because I love those pastel colours of twilight, I wanted to re-shoot this frame….magical location!

Views of Mt. Tasman 3497m and Mt. Cook 3754m from Three Mile Lagoon Beach during sunset, Westland National Park, World Heritage, West Coast, New Zealand

Views of Mt. Tasman 3497m and Mt. Cook 3754m from Three Mile Lagoon Beach during sunset, Westland National Park, World Heritage, West Coast, New Zealand

In July I was on moon hunting.

This image had been some years in making, as there is not too many opportunities to capture full moon next to the highest NZ mountains. Obviously, the weather is the boss here and if it gets stubborn, you gotta wait until next year.
I came in June but the clouds arrived so I packed up and went home…well, of course, I managed to photograph something else but there was no mountains and no moon. And so I went the following month again but this time I was lucky. There was no clouds around and the moon was closest to Mt. Tasman it ever gets. I have a few more ideas about this image so I will definitely be back this year again…

Twilight at Gillespies Beach with moon rising over Fox Glacier and next to Mt. Tasman (left) 3497m and Mt. Cook (right) 3754m, two highest New Zealand mountains, Westland National Park, West Coast, New Zealand

Twilight at Gillespies Beach with moon rising over Fox Glacier and next to Mt. Tasman (left) 3497m and Mt. Cook (right) 3754m, two highest New Zealand mountains, Westland National Park, West Coast, New Zealand

I love going places only a few knows about and not too many people photograph.
Charleston on in northern part of the West Coast was one of those places for me in August.

Time to time you can find a photo of the main bay in Charleston but I haven’t seen many of this southern coastline. I came to this spot several times as I wanted to have sunset and also sunrise versions as they are very different when it comes to light but both have its beauty. To me, this sunrise photograph thanks to the lit up clouds and ruggedness of the coastline in moody dark is the winner.

Sunrise on wild and remote coastline near Charleston near Westport, West Coast, New Zealand

Sunrise on wild and remote coastline near Charleston near Westport, West Coast, New Zealand

In September I was on a road again.

It’s been 7 years since I’ve been in Catlins last time so I couldn’t wait to get there. This eastern southern coastline lives kinda in a shadow of those hugely popular areas but perhaps because of it, it’s a joy to travel through and meeting with locals. Sitting in the bottom corner of the South Island, Catlins truly has some gems to show and the Nugget Point with its lighthouse is definitely one of them. In summer, the sun rises much more to the right, creating a lot of negative space if the sky is empty but I like its placement here, where it makes for a very pleasing and well balanced composition.

Sunrise at Nugget Point with lighthouse, Catlins, Southland, South Island, New Zealand

Sunrise at Nugget Point with lighthouse, Catlins, Southland, South Island, New Zealand

With October, I’ll be cheating a bit.

Initially, I wanted to use a different image for October, but then I changed my mind as I wanted to share with you another special frame. And because I’ve been quite busy at the end of last year I thought I could use image I took just on the beginning of November.
On the 1st November I travelled to Mt. Cook National Park to give hand to my friend Colin Monteath with his mountain photography workshop. He’s a fantastic guy and mountain photographer so please check his website at – www.colinmonteath.com
We had a blast and were lucky with weather. One of those nights we spent in mountains and it rained and snowed but it gave us a gorgeous morning where everything was dusted with fresh, thin layer of snow…just magic.

Soft pastel dawn over Tasman Glacier as seen from Ball Ridge with De la Beche 2950m in background with climber giving sense of scale at end of ridge and in foreground, Mt. Cook National Park, World Heritage, Mackenzie Country, South Island, New Zealand

Soft pastel dawn over Tasman Glacier as seen from Ball Ridge with De la Beche 2950m in background with climber giving sense of scale at end of ridge and in foreground, Mt. Cook National Park, World Heritage, Mackenzie Country, South Island, New Zealand

Shortly after I came back from Mt. Cook, in November I hit the road again, this time to the Nelson Region – Golden Bay.

There was one place in particular which I wanted to visit, actually two – Totaranui and Wharariki.
The image below is from amazing Wharariki with its famous arches on the beach. I’ve been here before but it was too long ago – well, 10 years to be exact…and here again, the adrenalin was running up my brain….how great it is to visit old places you love and always find them as new…..

Sun sets on famous arches on Wharariki Beach on west coast of South Island, Nelson Region, South Island, New Zealand

Sun sets on famous arches on Wharariki Beach on west coast of South Island, Nelson Region, South Island, New Zealand

And as a last image for December I won’t go far at all.

I chose to share a view from my lounge when the sun was setting on the boxing day.

Sunset with silhouetted totara tree near Whataroa, South Westland, West Coast, South Island, New Zealand

Sunset with silhouetted totara tree near Whataroa, South Westland, West Coast, South Island, New Zealand

Lets hope you’ve enjoyed my adventures and I look forward to catching up with you here next year again!
Many thanks for visiting my posts and all the best in 2013!


Lake Wahapo – scenic lake on West Coast of New Zealand

Lake Wahapo on West Coast in New Zealand

Sunset at Lake Wahapo near Whataroa with kahikatea grove and Mt. Adams in background, Westland National Park, West Coast, New Zealand

In my opinion, one of the most scenic lakes on the West Coast is Lake Wahapo.

Yes, I might be a little bit biased since the lake is only a stone throw away from my house near Whataroa and I feel extremely privileged and humbled to be able to live in such extraordinarily picturesque place.

Due to the silty rivers and wetlands around, the lake has coloured murky water but sustains a great numbers of fish. From brown trouts, eels to even salmons.

It is however it’s settings which make this lake a hot spot to photograph.
Surrounded by rare kahikatea grove and with Mt. Adams, most westerly mountain of the Southern Alps in the background, there is no chance to pass the lake without taking a photo.

This photograph was taken in this years winter only few minutes after sunset, which is my favourite time to photograph.
The air starts to be filled with those magical hues of purplish colours, often hues only camera’s sensor can reveal during longer exposure times. You have to be quick though, as those colours usually disappear quickly.

Dusk over Lake Wahapo with Mt. Adams in background, Westland National Park, West Coast, New Zealand

Taken with Nikon D800E and Nikkor 70-200 f2.8 lens

For more images of beautiful lakes in New Zealand, please visit our site and gallery
Stock images of scenic lakes in New Zealand

Photo: ©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!


Ice Lake, gem hidden in mountains.

Sunrise over Ice Lake in the Southern Alps with Shackleton and Whataroa Glaciers in the background, alpine herbs in foreground - Westland National Park, West Coast, New Zealand

Sunrise over Ice Lake in the Southern Alps with Shackleton and Whataroa Glaciers in the background, alpine herbs in foreground - Westland National Park, West Coast, New Zealand


I guess every photographer has a list of places he/she wants to photograph.
My list stretches over many pages but often I’m forced to postpone/re-plane some locations for variety or reasons.
With this place it wasn’t any different until last year, when I finally managed to visit this, one of my “on the top of a list” locations –
the Ice Lake at my backyard in Whataroa Valley on West Coast of South Island in New Zealand.

I’ve been planning this trip for many years but somehow didn’t manage to make it up there until last year…and what a place! I knew that it’s a quite a special location but reality exceeded my expectations.
Alpine garden of herbs and berries with fascinating rocks around a small lake tacked under massive, steep ranges of the Southern Alps with hanging glaciers truly reminds of Peter Jackson’s hobbit film location. It’s not easy to photograph there, however. All area the lake is in is very enclosed and the place doesn’t receive much sunlight, especially when days are shorter and sun lower.

I’m not HDR photographer I have to say, but in this instance I didn’t have many options (D800 wasn’t in my hands at that time). To be frank, I actually haven’t tried an HDR image before, so I was quite keen on trying it here.

For this image I merged 7 exposures to create this 1 frame using Photoshop CS5.

Taken on Nikon D300 with Nikkor 12-24 lens

Photo: ©Petr Hlavacek – www.nzicescapes.com

More images of Ice Lake in New Zealand are available from our gallery Alpine Lake Stock Images from 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!


Arrival of Nikon D800e!

From the Sea to the Mountains

From the Sea to the Mountains, Westland NP, New Zealand

Having ordered this camera immediately after its official announcement, I’ve been impatiently awaiting when this camera hits NZ shores. By the time it eventually did, the whole world already knew about its superior qualities…and it certainly didn’t make my waiting easy….

Therefore when it did eventually arrived, I was buzzing.
Full of high expectations and with excitement boiling, I went, actually literally run, to one of my close to my heart places to get my first shots with my new work horse.
I deliberately choose this location since I have many other similar images from there and I would be able to compare and see the difference.

I won’t be walking around a hot pot and will cut straight to the case;
the results I’ve got from this camera are, simply said, phenomenal.

Immediately from a first look, the tonal range and its smoothness is eye catching. Obviously, you won’t be able to see it from this post but on my EIZO monitor, file looks amazing. Can’t wait to print it out!
Next to the detail; I have image taken from exactly the same spot with my previous D300 and with Nikkor 24-70 F2.8 glass so I’m able to compare very accurately. I did expected an improvement as one would with such a big pixel difference but again – the result just blown me away. Every stem of the sand dune grass, yellow flower of gorse or any leaf, twig etc you see in the image is well defined, sharp and crisp – resolved in every detail by D800e massive resolution that you truly feel like being there.
D300 image file doesn’t look bad if you don’t put it anywhere near to this as it can’t stand the comparison in any way… in the fine detail I mentioned above D300 file looks in many places mushy…simply lacking pixels…. the tonal range and its smoothness can’t be matched by D300 file for obvious reasons as well…
Don’t get me wrong though; I loved my previous D300 and its results but technology just moves ahead….luckily often in our favour so we can afford tools like this brilliant Nikon D800e. I’m so thrilled to be working with it and be able now to deliver files which could wrap ones apartment around and around…
On this note – this image is a stitch of 6 files resulting in output file size of 700 MB and native 155cm x 62cm @300 dpi!!! Yes 300dpi…now, how great would that look on your wall…:)
Enjoy!


Wilderness of Copland Valley in New Zealand

Copland River in Copland Valley, West Coast, New Zealand

Copland River in Copland Valley, West Coast, New Zealand


Despite this place being right on my doorstep, I’m quite ashamed to admit that it’s been a long 10 years since I visited this location last time. But this long gap won’t happen again, I can promise you that!
This said, you can well imagine my excitement planing my trip back into the wilderness of this spectacular western part of the Southern Alps, part of the Westland National Park in New Zealand.
Copland Valley is simply amazing. Jugged skyline of The Sierra Range on southern side of the valley keeps your mind in awe pretty much all along the way toward the first, well known hut – Welcome Flat Hut, which is reached after around 8hrs. A lot of the time you’re hiking along beautiful Copland River as it runs through this valley. River originates in Copland Glacier and gathers its waters from magnificent peaks of the Southern Alps, especially from The Sierra Range. And it is its glacial origins which gives this river stunning turquoise-blue colour of water.

It was late on a summer day when I took this photograph of the Copland River. As the sun went lower and lower, the Copland Valley lost its light completely and the blue chill of river gave the air its coldness. Combination of these qualities, warm sunlight on the peaks, coldness of the river and with addition of the juicy green rainforest made this frame for me.

This panoramic photograph is a merge of six frames, processed using Lightroom 4 and stitched in Photoshop CS6.