Aurora Australis & Milky Way over Lake Ellesmere

When I got home from work on Tuesday, Greg told me that the Aurora Watch pages he keeps an eye on were talking about a significant event that we might be able to see from Christchurch. Greg kept checking the pages through the evening and by about 8.30 we were convinced that it was worth abandoning the comfort of the sofa and heading out into the frost to see if we could catch an aurora.

We went straight to a spot on Lake Ellesmere that we’d scoped out during a daytime walk in the summer as a potential spot for starscape photos, it also happens to point Southish so we were betting it’d be good for Aurora too. There was low fog in patches on the drive there, and more coming in across the lake once we’d walked down to our South facing point. The moon was out, the Milky Way looked amazing, and there was a subtle greenish smudge on the horizon that I thought might be the aurora.

Greg set up the tripod while I got the camera ready. I used the moon to focus on, then spun the camera around to frame the view and waited breathlessly for the first 30 second exposure to complete to see if it looked as amazing as we were hoping…. The constantly shifting pinks & greens of the aurora were amazing, and the milky way was simply glorious.

It was such a special experience, out there in the frozen night with the silence being broken periodically by the resident black swans calling out. A truly special event to see and a privilege to capture.

Aurora & Milky Way over Lake Ellesmere Christchurch New Zealand Aurora & Milky Way over Lake Ellesmere, Christchurch, New Zealand.

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Roadtrip to the snow

Last weekend we had what weather & news services were calling a “polar blast event”, and it had me crossing my fingers hoping for snow on the ground at home. Unfortunately we missed out this time but luckily living south of the city it’s not far to go to find some! On the Sunday we headed up past Porters to see what there was to see (like most of Christchurch did, it seemed!), with optimistic fishing rods in the car in the hopes of a rainbow or two at Lyndon for our troubles. What we hadn’t counted on was the lake freezing over – which makes fishing somewhat more difficult than usual – and the sheer number of people who’d come for a gawk and to take the kids tobogganing.

In search of more quiet surrounds we headed further up the pass. Somewhere between Lake Pearson and Cass the edge of the storm was threatening. The combination of gathering clouds, sleety rain and sunlit snowscapes all married together for dramatic mountain views, so I called a halt and took this shot of Mt Misery near Lake Grasmere.

Mt Misery, Lake Grasmere, Grasmere Lodge, Arthur's Pass

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On a spontaneous road trip to Arthur’s Pass we met this friendly Kea, entertaining tourists in the rain. I was immediately inspired to get my camera out to capture the tones and pattern of the Kea’s feathers, in particular one tiny bit of bright orange down that was peeping out from under one wing.

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Portrait Photography: Outdoor Family Portraits

Rebecca & Grainger were visiting Christchurch briefly for a family holiday and decided to squeeze in a family portrait session to mark the occasion.

I met them at the luxurious Peppers Clearwater Resort and photographed them and their kids onsite. The duckpond proved to be great entertainment for the kids, and a good opportunity for everyone to relax and get used to the camera. Christchurch had put on a fabulous winter’s day for the shoot – starting with a minus 4 degree frost! – and the classic blue-dome sky reflected in the pond with frosty grass and clear light made for some lovely shots that are very representative of Christchurch. Ideal for a holiday memento!

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Autumn Colour

Summer seemed to go on forever this year, but when Autumn finally arrived there were vivid colours everywhere.

Noticing one day how quickly the cherry trees went from green, to luminous colours, and then to bare (thanks to some very windy days!) I was inspired to go out and capture the fleeting beauty of Autumn in our garden in this collection of 5 images.

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Wedding Photography: Mel & Zach at Hinton’s Vineyard

This was my last wedding for the season, and it was a stunner. Mel & Zach had their ceremony under the trees in the orchard at Hintons Vineyard, and their reception in the tasting room. Their 2 adorable wee boys were ring bearers and did a fantastic job and were a double dose of cuteness in their tiny suits – one of my favourite shots from this wedding is of one of the boys beaming a massive smile up at Mel as she approaches the top of the aisle, it’s a heart melter!

The girls had their hair & make up done by Glam U at Mel’s house. After a bit of lunch and some time to chill out they got dressed and took a limo to Hintons. Zach & the boys were waiting at the head of the romantic aisle of cherry trees. After the ceremony the guests went back to the tasting room for canapés while the bridal party & I stayed on in the gardens for photographs. Once we were done with the gardens it was back to the tasting room for dinner & dancing.

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Here’s my highlights from the day – click to enlarge.

Wedding Photography: Kent & Desra at Mt Somers Village

Kent & Desra had originally planned an epic mountain top wedding overlooking Lake Clearwater, a place very dear to their hearts. Unfortunately the low cloud and threats of thunderstorms meant they had to cancel the helicopter and go with their Plan B ceremony location of the town hall at Mt Somers Village.

Desra, her bridesmaid & her flowergirl (2 year old Rebecca) got ready at the Red Cottage, at nearby Staveley. Hair & Make-up were done in the cute cottage, and Desra got dressed in the old woolshed (which Cottage guests usually use as a cosy movie theatre!).

From there we went to Mt Somers where Kent & his best man were waiting at the end of an aisle of white balloons. Once all the official ceremony stuff was signed and sealed the bridal party and I went for a drive to Woolshed Creek for some photos with the abandoned mining carts, and beautiful mountain, forest & river scenery. On the way back to the Village for the reception I suggested we stop for some photographs on Ashburton Gorge Road so that Kent & Desra could have some photographs with the mountains that they had originally planned to get married on in the background.

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Here are my highlights from Kent & Desra’s wedding day – click to enlarge.

Wedding Photography: Alicia & Keegan at Mt Vernon, Akaroa

Alicia & Keegan had their ceremony & reception at beautiful Mt Vernon, overlooking Akaroa Harbour on Banks Peninsula. The views are spectacular, and we were very lucky to have blue skies to compliment the aqua sea & ochre hills. The unity candle ceremony was almost hampered by gusty winds, but by working together as a team Alicia & Keegan got the candle lit in the end.

After the ceremony the bridal party and I went for a tiki tour around Akaroa. The first stop was at the iconic jetty where I got some beautiful shots as the wind caught Alicia’s veil. Next we went for a bit of a drive to find the lighthouse – got a wee bit lost trying to find it, but find it we did – and on the way stopped off the playground in Tane’s Garden for some more casual shots on the playground equipment. By the time we got to the lighthouse the evening light was golden and romantic, making it absolutely perfect for wedding photography. We had a few quick shots with the bridal car (Alicia tells me that it’s Keegan’s pride & joy), and after some candid shots walking over the bridge into Akaroa we went back up the hill to Mt Vernon Estate for the reception.

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Here are my highlights from Alicia & Keegan’s wedding – click to enlarge.

Wedding Photography: Kirsty & Ross at Kate Sheppard House

Kirsty & Ross chose the gorgeous Kate Sheppard House in Ilam for their wedding venue. The immaculately kept house & gardens are a wonderful setting for photographs, and the heavy rain we’d had all morning cleared just in time for the outdoor ceremony area to be set up ahead of the wedding.

While their family & friends were entertained with drinks & canapés the bridal party and I nipped next door to Canterbury University to take some creative shots down by the stream. The rain made a reappearance, but luckily for me a couple of umbrellas & a bottle of champagne were enough to keep everyone dry and in good spirits!

(Hair & make up by Mariessa Waddington)

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Here are my highlights from Kirsty & Ross’s wedding – click to enlarge.