Te Araroa - Russell Forest to Ngunguru

Leaving the confines of a house can be made all the more difficult if you know you're also giving up a comfy bed, warming wood burner and a flushing toilet in favour of a tent and little else, but it was time for us to continue on. Living out of a tent has its upsides, for instance you develop a new found joy in having only the bare essentials and leave behind many of the material possessions you always thought you needed. But on the flip side I often found myself longing for what we think of as basic luxuries, such as a clean flushing toilet, to conduct your business in the absence of the obligatory flies while you loomed over a literal shit hole. Something to look forward to I suppose and as someone who has worked on remote islands I've used a lot, lot worse. Day 15 - Helena Bay to Whananaki It was to be a long day, winding through forest of regenerative manuka and kanuka trees, passing open farmland reminiscent of the Welsh countryside, and eventually winding our way down to the campsite for the evening. Photographically speaking, I wasn't overwhelmed with inspiration, through no fault of the landscape. The scenery was beautiful but I was beginning to think more about how new images would add to the story of our trip, if indeed there would be a larger over arching story. With plenty of time to think while out on the trail, I was dedicating more thought to what I was hoping to get out of it photographically. I didn't feel compelled to take images for the sake of it, which is just as important. Day 16 - Whananaki to Woolleys Bay Crossing the longest footbridge in the Southern hemisphere was certainly an exciting way to start the day, but it was to get much better. Our route was short as I had cherry picked a campsite that looked like a promising place for sunrise photography not too far along the trail, so we took our sweet time meandering around the grassy headlands of the Whananaki coastal walkway. The scenery was gorgeous, yet I was constantly battling the strong sunlight of the day for compelling compositions. Contrast was going to be the order of the day, which is no bad thing, I just needed to find ways of composing the images to my advantage. A recently read article on black and white photography may have been the inspiration I needed to get me through such a day.

I'm not usually one for black and white photography, but when inspiration strikes! Upon arriving at the camping ground overlooking Woolley Bay, I knew I'd made the right call to stay here for the night. Some beautiful rocky headlands were adorned with red-billed gulls, and I knew that the sunrise would be in the perfect spot for some great images.

Day 17 - Woolley's Bay to Ngunguru The next morning I was up early, ready and in prime position to make the most of the dawn light. After capturing a more minimal image of the colony the previous day I looked for framing a wider scene, which with a prime lens means using your feet. I walked away to the far side of the beach, noticing that the sunlight was falling in that direction and knew I could incorporate a sunburst into the image. Worth a try I felt, and there was a small stream flowing into the sea which provided a great element to lead the viewer into the image. I popped on LEE Filter's Little Stopper, along with a 0.9 hard grad to take some of the edge off of the bright sun and fired off two shots. The first was just before the sun broke over the rocks, giving the desired exposure without any encroaching lens flare, and the second with the sun now bursting into the image. By combining the two images, the image is free of any unwanted lens flares, giving the image a nice clean aesthetic.

The rest of the day seemed to fly by, covering ground quickly. We walked the majority of the day through native bush, a landscape that I was struggling to do justice with the camera. A seemingly repeating tangled mass of vegetation, I was struggling to find compositions that I liked as we hiked through. Perhaps an early morning with a thick mist was needed to give it a different atmospheric feel, though the wall-to-wall sunshine we had been enjoying had certainly been preferable to pitching and packing away the tent in rain. Good job I had plenty of time to keep thinking about it and working on it. I know that our luck with the weather wouldn't last, but for now at least we could sit back with a beer in hand and a chicken for company, and enjoy it.