Tongariro National Park, New Zealand

New Zealand has fantastic mountains in Tongariro National Park. Our goal was to drive high up the mountains in order to get a sunrise view. We took the Bruce Road up Mount Ruapehu to a point above the Chateau Tongariro and just below the ski area at the end of the road. It was from this point that "Mount Doom," as everyone called Mount Ngauruhoe, has an attention-grabbing profile and it became the center of our focus. It was only after we got more morning light that we became aware of the alpine flora. These beautiful plants, in addition to the awesome landscape, made for a memorable morning. It also serves as a reminder to look at all of the spatial scales. 

Technical Notes: Canon 5D Mark III with a Canon EF 85mm 1.2 L lens (except for the Mount Ngauruhoe photos which used a Canon EF 14mm 2.8 L lens). A Canon GPS-E2 was used to record the photo locations. All photos were taken with a Sirui T-025 tripod. The weather was cold. Postprocessing included cropping to 1600 x 1200 pixels and some light touches in Photoshop with Nik Software filters.

Assessment: This is a great place for alpine plant photos. There were several places to park alongside the highway. Being there very early in the morning really helped as the "golden hour" lighting appear to give the plants more character. The Canon EF 85mm lens is not ideal for this kind of photography. It would have been much better to use a macro lens and focus hood. The result would have been much better focus. Time was also a consideration as this was the start of what would be a very busy day. More time would have helped. Treat these photos as a preview of what could be an interesting photo essay if taken with a bit more care.