The Wanaka Tree, New Zealand by Neil Protheroe

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Picture Story

Certainly the most photographed tree in New Zealand, and perhaps even the world, the famous Lone Tree at Roy’s Bay, Lake Wanaka, is believed to have started its life as a humble fence post in the 1930s.

In recent years, largely thanks to social media, it has become one of the most popular subjects for photographers visiting New Zealand, and now even claims its own hashtag - though with good reason. It is a compelling subject in a beautiful landscape, offering a variety of creative compositions which should appeal to any photographer.

This image was made on a windless spring morning at dawn, the snow-capped peaks of Mount Aspiring National Park reflecting in the glass-like surface of Lake Wanaka; the fresh green foliage contrasting with the pink hues of the sunrise sky; and the tree itself mirrored in the pebbled-filled shallows near the lake shore.

This was my first visit to “the tree” in the spring and the conditions happened to be perfect for this particular composition. There were surprisingly few people there at the time too, which made finding the ideal spot much easier than it might have been. I chose to omit the poplar trees which line the lake shore to the left of the picture, but to include Ruby Island, at the edge of the frame to the left of the tree, keeping the subject off-centre and trying to avoid distracting tangencies.

Autumn has until now been my preferred time to visit this location for the colours in the landscape but it is more crowded at that time of the year than in winter or spring. Whichever season is chosen, it pays to arrive there early!


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