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In Search of "THE" Shot at Mount Maunganui

Mount Maunganui seen from Papamoa Beach with the sky lit from the night lights of the city.
Epic Evening Light That caught me by surprise!

Whilst traveling the North Island of New Zealand I knew there were certain locations I wanted to add to my landscape photography portfolio. Mount Maunganui was one of them. As with most of the places we visited on our NZ photography road trip we were limited by the time we had available. Just one night before we had to move on.

So no matter what the weather or conditions I had to do everything in my power to get THE shot. I wasn't sure if or when I'd be able to get back to a lot of these places and my landscape photography website was crying out for a more rounded coverage of New Zealand's most notable places.

I arrived, with my kids and wife at Mount Maunganui in the afternoon to find the place flatly lit with lifeless grey cloud. Not the cool dark and moody clouds that can look dramatic and interesting but the thick sheet cloud that just drains every morsel of life from a scene. I was disappointed but hopeful that my patience would pay off and the next day would yield better conditions.

Flat light at Mount Maunganui meant I had to go hard with the processing in post production!

In the meantime, not being one to sit around, I tried playing around with compositions and scouted the area for ideas. As shown in this black and white shot above.

As I looked out to the horizon on the sea I could tell there was good light out there. Alasa, it just wasn't with me! This shot with a boat passing by was about all that was happening at this point and to be honest, I was feeling pretty frustrated!

Ship at sea off the coast of Mount Maunganui
Everywhere I looked the light was flat. The slither along the horizon was about as good as it got!

I am a huge fan of those serendipitous moments that you just can't plan for, but only present themselves because you've put yourself into the situation that can bring that magic moment to fruition. It happened later that night when I was heading away from the Mount itself and driving the length of the Marine Parade. I drove further and further in the opposite direction along Ocean Beach Road and then on to Papamoa Beach Road. I was hoping to find a park for the night but all I found was a car park full and youngsters smoking pot.

Nevertheless, on a whim, I grabbed my camera and tripod and headed down to the beach in the semi-darkness. I was rewarded with a truly intriguing colour palette as the rich blue hues of the evening were being flooded by the halogen glow of Tauranga's electric life.

I set up my camera on the tripod and fired off a few different compositions with the lens I had already mounted which happened to be my Nikkor 24-70mm. The photo at the top of the post was my favourite and after a quick edit in Luminar AI I was happy with the finished outcome.


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