I’m not long back from a two week road trip around the North Island of New Zealand.  Like last year, I planned a photo trip to a number of special locations I wanted to get to which featured on my shoot list.

I based myself at my parents bach near Taupo being central to all directions of the compass.  The aim was to go to wherever the weather was good.  I traveled to the Wairarapa, North Cape, Auckland, Taranaki, and the Central Plateau. I had high expectations that I’d get some great time-lapses, but that was not to be.

To be honest, I’m a bit of a purist when it comes to shooting my time-lapse scenes.  I like them to be pristine and largely free from people and not too much evidence of civilisation.  My frustrations mount when:

  • people and other photographers step into my scene when my camera and time lapse gear is quietly firing away;
  • four-wheel drive vehicles come out at night and spoil the night shoot, leaving vehicle tracks in the sand;
  • sand-flies crawl over the lens and filters spoiling a number of frames;
  • technology issues setting up my gear at the crucial time when the light is changing;
  • lugging heavy gear for hours to get to a scene;
  • forgetting crucial pieces of gear and realising you’ve left them back in the car; and
  • rubbish weather – wind, rain, and uneventful skies.

I feel like I need a PHD to operate my gear sometimes, or undergo an annual refresher course to re-familiarise myself with the technology before I head out.  I do this sometimes, but the main issue this year is that many locations these days are ‘popularised’.  Photos on the web or shown on social media means others want to go to these places too, just to get the same shot.  This was the case at Mt. Taranaki.  Before I knew it, up to 6 people were standing next to me.

The challenge for me now is to re-think my gear so that I have something that’s lighter than what I currently have.  It needs to be easy, reliable and quick to set up when I arrive at the scene.  Time-lapse has become very popular now and gear is getting better each and every year.  Here’s a few ‘lessons learned’ from this year’s trip:

  • Sunrise is a better time to shoot as opposed to sunset – most people are still in bed (easier said than done as like my sleep);
  • Research and invest in lighter gear (I’m already in debt and have lot’s gear that’s quickly becoming redundant);
  • Rather than shoot popular ‘iconic’ spots, plan to trek to more remote and interesting locations that most people are not likely to get to (i’m not getting any fitter in my old age).

Despite all my first-world problems, I thought I’d leave you with these few shots from my trip.  There are more to come.  They’ll be used in a time lapse which I think will be published later this year.  Enjoy.


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Here’s an image from my recent annual photography trip to gather time-lapse footage from around New…

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