Lake Wanaka, New Zealand by Kyle Jones

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Last year I had the chance to spend a week on New Zealand's beautiful South Island. I hadn't realized it when I booked our condo for the week, but Wanaka is home to one of the world's most photographed trees: "That Wanaka Tree". This small willow is near the shore of the lake and is framed by the Southern Alps.

Since we were staying nearby, I had the chance to make several visits to this icon in hopes of finding special conditions. On our first night in New Zealand we walked down to the lake and I joined the crowd waiting for sunset. Shooting icons in a crowd isn't always my preference, but sometimes the party-like atmosphere can be fun. This was a fun evening and became even more so as the setting sun lit up the clouds with some spectacular color. Usually I prefer shooting at sunrise, and all of my return visits to the tree were at sunrise, because I can make sure to arrive before any crowds and pick my spot. This evening I just had to do my best to work with the crowds.

It was windy enough to prevent any sharp reflections in the water, but as it got darker I could extend my exposures to smooth out the lake and really pick up the color in the sky. I settled on a spot along the shoreline relatively far from the tree so I could zoom to 50mm and keep the surrounding mountains relatively large in the frame. The colorful clouds took care of the rest.

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