Some thoughts on how to enhance sustainability in photography

One of the goals of Photo Quest NZ is draw attention to our unique New Zealand landscape in such a way as to do something tangible towards not only protecting it, but ensuring people grasp the need for habitat restoration for our native species.

NZ tomtit
NZ tomtit

Along the way though we leave footprints – not so much in the way of the obvious nasty chemicals used to make images pre digital, but in more subtle and insidious ways such as the need for electronics (with planned obsolescence, not to mention packaging), batteries and data storage.



With these thoughts in mind, and already being off the grid (all Photo Quest studio work is done via solar power) with equipment chosen for it’s potential longevity (can you believe a ten year old iPhone) thoughts recently have gravitated towards travel – the simple act of getting to remote locations and back again.

Duffers Saddle in the snow - Central Otago
At least I have accomodation with me

It’s been a habit in the past to go to a new locations, take a few images and then retreat back to the office where they’re evaluated pending another trip to said location. The thought being to be there for sunsets and sunrises, or a snow storm or two.


However recently good friends invited me to have a day trip up Isthmus Peak – a viewpoint popular with young back packers, which gives great panorama views of both Lakes Wanaka and Hawea.

View from Isthmus Peak track
View from the lower section of the Isthmus Peak track
Mts Castor and Pollux from near the top of Isthmus Peak
Mts Castor and Pollux from near the top of Isthmus Peak
Lake Hawea on the left, Wanaka on the right,  from near the top of Isthmus Peak
Lake Hawea on the left, Wanaka on the right, from near the top of Isthmus Peak
Lake Hawea on the left, Wanaka on the right
Lake Hawea on the left, Wanaka on the right
Near the top
Mount Aeolus from from Isthmus Peak
Looking across Lake Wanaka we could see the Wilken Valley peaks such as Mount Aeolus, but unfortunately the noon light did not make for a photo equal to the majesty of this view

On seeing the panoramas offered by this walk, it can come to mind to return for the golden hour after the sun has set, or better yet in this case, be there for dawn. Which actually means burning more fuel.

Mount Aeolus from Isthmus Peak track
So one way to improve the light photographically is to use post production software, thus getting a competent image on one visit which goes someway towards sustainable photography. The dull image immediately above was the basis for this one

None of these blog page images are listed in our shop yet, but if you happen to be interested please note which image and email Donald so he can process the various options, and advise you with a link when completed

That Wanaka Tree

I’ve been around this now famous tree in more ways than one, e.g. swimming, and simply took it for granted for a few decades.

In snow, flood, or times of drought this tree that used to be a fence post earlier than 1939, endures with a determination to not just live, but to be a rock star of the Internet

However before it became famous a few of us had been there with cameras in sunshine and storm, simply because it was nice subject matter for landscape photographers.

But even then we had no idea how social media would change all that – now days getting an image of it with no people is the ultimate challenge.

A Wanaka Tree photographer working in a  snow-storm under an umbrella

And so the photographers came! With tripods, umbrellas, children and iPhones!

That Wanaka Tree at sunset

And often the sun sets on a perfect day, which finds the lake levels either up or down or somewhere in between

That Wanaka Tree bathing in unusual light

But what intrigues me of late is the tree seems to sense the attention it gets and becomes alive in another universe

Wedding couple by the Wanaka Tree

Then again it is not always the centre of attention

None of these blog page images are listed in our shop yet, but if you happen to be interested please note which image and email Donald so he can process the various options, and advise you with a link when completed