Sunset at Lake Tekapo

Lake Tekapo is one of the most extraordinary things I have seen in my life. A lake of the most odd blue color, and then a painterly sky like this.Jacob Surlandwww.caughtinpixels.comArt sale as limited prints. Photo by Jacob Surland, Licensed Creative Commons non-commercial v4.0. No Derivative Work. Protected by

Lake Tekapo is one of the most surreal lakes I have ever seen, due the color of the water.

Lake Tekapo is one of the most extraordinary things I have seen in my life. We drove around New Zealand in a campervan for a month. While a month seems like a long time, it really isn’t enough to do New Zealand proper justice. We skipped a large part of the Northern Island, not because we didn’t want to see it, but simply because time didn’t allow it.

Our last night in our campervan we had with a view of Lake Tekapo. And we sure did have a great day there. We drank the world famous in New Zealand soft drink L&P had our favorite sandwiches with Watties Ketchup for lunch, while we sat in the back of our campervan and enjoyed the view of Lake Tekapo.

At sunset time, we were rewarded with the most amazing sunset, with surreal painterly like clouds. A sunset worthy of New Zealand.

This is another one from Lake Tekapo – notice the surreal color of the lake:

Church of the Good Shephard

The Church of the Good Shepard watching over Lake Tekapo.

These are some of my other shots from New Zealand.

Morning Glow in Milford Sound

Milford Sound – so beautiful the gods placed the Sand flies there, so that mankind would not stay there for too long.

On The Road Again

Driving towards Lake Tekapo.

A Moeraki Boulder

A Moeraki Boulder

On a beach on the South Island of New Zealand they have these really odd completely round boulders. The are pretty large, about 1 meter in diameter and nobody knows how they were created – one of natures small wonders, like the crawling stones in Death Valley.

About this photo

This is a 9 shot HDR. As you can see the sun is still very very bright. If I had wanted the sun to be less burned, I would have had to use an Neutral Density filter (ND-filter). An ND filter is like sunglasses for the lens. I actually did use an ND filter on the same beach, to take some shots of the moving water behind me. That slowed down my shutter speed to a few seconds making wonderful stuff to the waves.

About the composition

What I did with the composition was to merge in the Moeraki Boulder into the edge of the sand cliff, but made sure not to place it above the trees, so it merges into the edge between the sand cliff and the trees on the top of the sand cliff. That gives three repeating shapes, that looks a bit like three waves.

About the processing

I have spend a lot of time making this photo. My aim was to get something that looked Classic HDR, and I wanted a strong shadow cast by the boulder. I have used the edges of the shadow as lead in lines. The reflection in the water I made sure was bright to make a bold reflection. And the last thing I did was a lot of clean up. I have really realized how much cleaning up my photo affects the impact of the photo. I decided to clean up small rocks, leaves etc and it really became a much better photo. One of the things you have to keep in mind, when you take photos, is to keep it simple. To many things in your photo, will just confuse the viewer and it will be like noise for the viewer. Rubble, stones, leaves etc creates a noise too, so either clean up the scene before taking it or do it in Photoshop later. Try at least cleaning up in the foreground of your photo, and be amazed how it affects the impact of your photo.

Peaceful Sunrise At Milford Sound

Peaceful Sunrise At Milford Sound

One of the most beautiful and dramatic fiords lies on the the west coast of New Zealands South Island. The sun rises and shines on Mitre Peak, which rises an amazing almost 1700 m straight out of the water, which I was told was the record. The weather changes a lot in Milford Sound and seeing it without a cloud is a rare experience. It rains up to 11 meters (!) per year here, which is makes this place one of the places on Earth where it rains most.

About the processing
This is 7 shot HDR photo merged together using Photomatix. I have worked a lot with the image. Created a new layer, fine tuned an area, and then blended that area into the main photo, then made another duplicated layer to optimize another area. I have used Topaz Adjust and Nik Color Efex filters with delicacy.

Cleaning up the photo
I have done a lot of cleaning up in the photo. There was a lot of dirt, leaves, insects etc in the water. This I have removed using the clone tool in Photoshop. It took some time, but it’s important to achieve the calm mood of the photo and the strong clear reflection.

On The Road Again

On The Road Again

Our last real drive after a month in New Zealand went from Oamaru to Lake Tekapo. This is from the road to Twizel and suddenly we saw these amazing clouds. I have never seen clouds like that in Denmark. We saw them a couple of times down there.

This photo is 95% Lightroom processed. I have placed a gradient on the sky, enhancing the contrast and clarity, as well as bringen the exposure down a bit down.

Then I have on a global basis turned up the contrast to maximum, and set the clarity to +29. Shadows I have raised to the maximum, and the highlights I have lowered to the minimum. The Curves I have on the minus side (-13, -9, -22 and -44).

This is a very strong manipulation, but it is what gives the photo its look and feel.

Sunrise in the Doubtful Sound

Sunrise in the Doubtful Sound

Doubtful Sound, South Island, New Zealand – bigger and much much more desolate than Milford Sound. Less dramatic though, but very very beautiful.

This is first edited in Lightroom, then exported to Photoshop, where I did a Topaz Filter and then some more adjustmens, a little noise reduction, and then back to Lightroom for the final adjustments.

EXIF: 28mm (28-300mm lens), ISO 400, f/3.5, 1/125 sec.
I used ISO 400 to keep the shutter speed fast, because is was on a moving boat and tripods was not possible. Therefore also f/3.5, which is to high normally for landscapes.

Morning Glow in Milford Sound

Morning Glow in Milford SoundThe sand flies in Milford sound is pure Hell. The Maori’s said that their god created Milford Sound, and to prevent people for staying forever in such a beauty, he created the sand flies.
I took a bath in a repellent spray, but when I got home to my camper van a couple of hours later, I had this huge bump right on my forehead. Good thing, though, it only itches like hell for a week or so.
Milford Sound is one of the most photographed tourist attractions in New Zealand and it is understandable why. It’s massive size and beauty is amazing. Mitre Peak rises 1692m straight out of the water. Your sense of proportions really is working on overtime.
This is an HDR of 5 shots. ISO is 100, at F11 and 1,3 seconds for the 0 exposure.

New Zealand – Otika Gorge on the South Island

This picture I have taken on the road through Arthurs pass on the South Island on New Zealand. It is one of the most beautiful roads I have ever driven on. This is Otika Gorge. Before the bridge was build, you had to drive this insane road this picture was taken on. Actually you can kind of see were it goes, if you look closely at the photo on the right hand side.
Technically, this is made from three exposures, with 3 EV steps between and then I made two tonemapped versions, giving me altogether 5 images that I merged together in Photoshop. And at last I did a little filtering and sharpening, without removing the dreamy impression.