Just a few kilometres south of the small town of Twizel in the Mackenzie High Country of New Zealand's South Island, you'll find two lagoons, one on either side of the highway. One is known as Kellands Ponds, and the other is Wairepo Arm. The latter is an "arm" of nearby Lake Ruataniwha (pronounced Roo-ah-tan-eefa). The lake and the two lagoons are, in fact, man-made, being part of the massive Waitaki hydroelectric scheme built in this area in the late 1960s.
For photographers, Wairepo Arm is a well-known beauty spot. The banks of the lagoon are filled with willows, pines and other deciduous trees, which show off their vibrant colours twice a year, in spring and autumn. The lagoon is reasonably sheltered by the hills behind it, and so on windless days, the water is flat and calm and produces mirror-like reflections of the surrounding landscape. The calmest water is usually seen in the mornings, but the golden hour light later in the day makes for the best photographs! It is a matter of choice.
This image was made mid-afternoon on a fairly overcast day in late autumn. Personally, at this location, at least, I prefer the rust-orange colours of late autumn (mid-May here) to the brighter, more garish yellow colours of the peak of the fall season.
A windless day with some untypical middle-of-the-day low-hanging clouds and mist made for a perfectly symmetrical composition - the holy grail for anyone wanting to shoot here. I have three or four favourite spots on the shore of Wairepo Arm from which to photograph; my choice is determined by the density of the trees, the colour of the foliage, the sharpness of the reflections and the light falling on the hills in the background. It is one of those calm, tranquil places which seem to be few and far between these days. However, it was ruined with just one drop of rain!
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Dimitri Vasileiou • Editor