Missed Opportunity – The Milford Sound in New Zealand

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A cold and windy sunset

I really wanted to make the iconic photo of the Milford Sound that I had seen many times in books and on-line.  We planned our New Zealand trip with a 4 hour one way drive and 24 hour turn around just so we could “get the shot.”  It did not quite work out for us.  Here’s what happened.

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We drove from Queenstown to the Milford Sound, which was almost 200 miles and four hours.  Because of the orientation of the Sound, sunrise is the ideal light and time.  We arrived late afternoon and decided to scout the location, with no real plan for a sunset shoot.  It was cold and windy.  The tide was out and there really was no good sky to speak of.  We made lemonade by mostly shooting in monochrome.

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We had fun scouting and looking for our perfect location for the morning shoot.

We stayed at the Milford Sound Lodge, so we would be close.  We awoke at 5 AM and headed to the Sound in the dark.  As the light started to come up, we realized that Mitre Peak and most of the sound was covered in low lying fog.  This was our only chance as we had to leave that morning and head to the next location.

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We waited and waited and waited.  We checked the weather.  There was no way the clouds were going to lift on this day.  We reluctantly packed up and headed to Wanaka.

I am usually good about location research, but in this case, I failed.  The weather we experienced is “typical” and there is low clouds about 50% of the time.  Had we done a bit more research we might have booked two nights rather than one.  We also booked only one night because we were not going to take one of the boats out to the sound or do one of the long treks.  Finally, since we were only going for the “postcard” shot, we did not want to spend two days in one location for one photo.

Lessons learned.

To see more of (and buy) our photographs, please go www.pamphotography.com.

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