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These creations the Tongaporutu Boulders are from a time long before the internet and things Hoooman and they are such a elusive subject to even get to let alone be able to photograph as the shifting sands along this coastline can very easily bury them so that there is no trace to be seen at all. Thats after getting the low tide at the right time with out it raining and also hoping for that after storm effect of the sands having moved enough to even see them. And as well the erosion after storms can alter the coastline where by some major sea stacks can be eroded away to a pile of rubble.
My last visit culminated in getting to where i had seen them previously but all there was is these sand undulations which to seemingly be covering the boulders. It seems that when they don't want you to see them then you won't and that is all there is to it!
In this Blog have gathered all the images from a successful explore and the not so rewarding expeditions. All are available as prints with a link at the bottom.
Archway at Tongaporutu beach at sunset with out going tide.A archway with tidal flow at sunset at Tongaporutu. You can see through the arch to the beach beyond. At the start of the access to the beach where the boulders are is this archway formation and its the closest to the low tide deepest point in the beach so its a real pinch point. Its the last bit to be shallow enough to proceed so if you get the tides wrong its nowhere to go as its all cliff face all the way down. At this time the tide was at its lowest point and it was too deep to proceed. The area under the arch had been washed out so its way too deep and around the outside edge was no better. That stopped this attempt right there this time...the water was over my knees at this point so if a rouge wave caught me further out with camera bag on it would have been a tad tricky. At least the sunset was coming along nicely...
This sea stack just commands attention from any angle.It is partway down this stretch of coastline towards where the boulders are situated and i defy anyone to wander past without checking it out. One of the most common mistakes for new photographers is to go 'wow look at that' and walk all around the stack and then think of getting a unique shot of it in its pristine environment only to have all these foot prints in the sand. So consequently now always approach these subjects with a wide berth so as to not ruin any possible photo opportunities. Its a lot easier at place like this with no one around having the whole place to yourself but with a popular spot that can get problematic. Nothing like a good tide to wash everything clean twice a day.
The same specimen but from a different angle at sunset with the stack in silhouette which gives it a fatter appearance. The sunset on this occasion was spectacular and that's one thing about west coast beaches with sunsets. You don't have to get up early for them not like the east coast but that is what it is...
Cliff erosion at Tongaporutu.The renaments of a cliff face collapse at Tongaporutu with a jumble of rocks in the sand with one large rock with a sharp point leading to the sky at sunset. Being a coastline that gets its fair share of storm activity and the type of rock material there is constant erosion so its constantly changing from one visit to the next. This is part of a collapse leaving a jumble of rock features but the one pointed rock form really stood out. The hard part was getting a decent composition to highlight it within the coastal landscape. This is a 3 image blend for the extreme highlights to darks created by taking a average lighting exposure with a dark and slightly over exposed image. The darker image gets the highlights in the sky and the over shot gets the details in the darker areas. Commonly called HDR or High Dynamic Range. All decent photographic software have a blending option. When in the field it's sometimes handy to mark the end image with taking a shot with your hand in the frame to mark the sequence end. Some common mistakes with HDR is to overly crank the contrasts giving a fake look. You want it to represent what you saw at the time.
Tongaporutu coastline.The coastline at Tongaporutu is to respected for the sudden waves that wash ashore that can suddenly catch you out. Here we see the cliffs at Tongaporutu at sunset with waves crashing ashore and surrounding the boulders suddenly with the wave action displayed. The actual boulders themselves are a illusive bunch for sure. This is with a outgoing tide but with being on the coast you never take the sea for granted and this was just a rouge wave that decided to surge back up the beach so had to quickly hold the tripod for the shot then try to scramble up the beach before the water pushed me over. There is a lot of force with rushing water and was well past worrying about keeping the socks and boots dry so its a case of creating a standing position the has the least resistance which is usually standing with the water side on. Bit tricky with a reasonable camera bag as well so you do not want to fall over! At least i got the shot ... but no shot is worth getting into trouble over.
So without a rush of tidal water this is what this beach looks like with the Tongaporutu Boulders at sunset. Methinks they out shine the other boulders in the South Island but that's my opinion until i get one day get to see those...
The Taranaki boulders at sunset with out going tide.Some large Tongaporutu Boulders with a sunset sky in the background. Another view from the there side looking out to the sunset and the surf line. Was really lucky to catch the streak of golden light reflection on the water on the bottom left which complements the golden light in the sky.
Small Tongaporutu Boulder.A almost perfectly sphere shaped Tongaporutu Boulder set just under the cliff face on the coastline with a green algae growth on the cliff face itself being in a shaded damp area. There are other smaller round boulders in the back ground.
This for want of a better term is what i would call the boulder nursery as it seems like they are uncovered from within the cliff face by the wave erosion and just appear as newly exposed boulders. There is some magical shapes and patterns on the round boulders themselves which depicts the huge pressure that was used to create them. Really liked the contrast with the Tongaporutu Boulder and the algae covered cliff face with the other smaller round rocks in the background.
Sunset at Tongaporutu beach.A view looking south with Mount Taranaki in the far distance of the Tongaporutu coastline at a very low tide at sunset with the beach exposed with pools of water left in little pools of water after the receding tide. This is the same area at the last visit. Not a boulder to be seen anywhere. You can't tell me they all rolled away. That would be silly. But imagine the storm force to move all that sand to expose them and also to cover them again. It seems that mother nature decides if you are worthy this time to see them after getting the tides and weather to suit which in itself is a bit of a mission. Still ...nothing worthwhile was that easy.
Sunset sand with patterns.Looking out to sea from the Tongaporutu coastline with the sun nearly set below the horizon over pools of water left behind from the receding tide. Not a boulder to be seen but these indentations in the sand. Still it makes for a not to shabby sunset image....
Foot prints in the sand.At sunset on a wide open beach at low tide with a wide view of the cliffs at Tongaporutu on the left running down towards Mount Taranaki in the far distance with also the footprints leading towards the mountain. This is one time that leaving foot prints in the sand does work as it makes for a decent leading line towards Mount Taranaki in the far distance at sunset. That was more by accident than design as was walking back to the car park and wasn't too worried about leaving prints behind me. But you should always look back as the photographers adage goes...
Mount Taranaki sunset over the sea.Looking from the Tongaporutu coastline at Mount Taranaki at sunset with golden light over the intervening sea with the surf line in the foreground. Also with a low tide and a golden sunset means that a image of Mount Taranaki is in the offering. Created a slower speed exposure to just blur out the surf line just a little to add to the ambience.
Strange rock formations at Tongaporutu.Along the exposed coastline in the cliff face was this strange hard rock formation that was being eroded out of the cliff face by the high tide waves hitting the cliff. Also the bright green algae added a colour contrast which was kept moist by the water flowing down the cliff face. Another interesting rock feature was this hard rock being slowly eroded out of the cliff by the high tide waves with this bright green algae adding a colour contrast. It was being kept wet by fresh water flowing down the face of the cliff.
Dusk with stars and rocks at Tongaporutu.A night image made just after sunset with the lingering sunset colours on the horizon with a group of rocks on the fore ground at the beach at Tongaporutu at the tides edge with the surf line blurred with a longer exposure. At the end of the day hung around for awhile to try for some night images. There was a fishing boat just over the horizon which added just a glint of light in the middle waterline and the rocks on the shore line added just the right complement with the early stars above.
All these images are available to order as prints. Just go to the Taranaki page and by clicking upon your preferred image the printing options are available for you.
It was a source of frustration trying to find where exactly the famous 'Taupo Tree' was. By the usual Google map searching provided inconsequential results so it wasn't until a period of just physically wandering around likely areas against the lake shore and a hidden entry found by chance that managed to discover for my self this elusive tree. Ha... its not like it was running away but in the end was just hiding in plain sight.
So now every time we pass this way it's a given that a visit to the tree is in order. Following is a selection of images from the Taupo Tree and it's next door cousin at various times of the seasons.
A square format image of the tree made on a cold still morning in winter with the resident birds resting in the tree with the geothermal steam clouds in the background.
The tree in winter with a low lake level showing the foreshore creating a curved line towards the tree in the lake.
A square format image using a long exposure with a small sunburst just above the Taupo Tree.
The other tree in Lake Taupo which is sometimes regarded as the poor cousin of the other tree as its not as photogenic but still has so much character.
A black and white rendition of the Taupo Tree in a square format with the north western shore line in the background.
A colour version of the Taupo Tree looking due north with Taupo Town in the far distance with a long exposure to flatten the lake water.
With the early snow falls at Tonagariro National Park being on the dismal side in the early part of the season some opportunities arose to do some quick day trips to try and capture the new snow falls around the mountain and also image the natural attractions the visitors come to see at the World Heritage Park. The snow falls in August coincided with the lock down which meant that no one was going to appreciate the snow fields for awhile but at least managed to capture some glorious imagery of the early season falls.
Alpenglow at Mount Ruapehu.Mount Ruapehu just before the dawn showing the alpenglow colours which last for a short period in a panoramic format. Mount Ruapehu was just spectacular in this pre dawn shot with all the colours of the Alpenglow which only lasts for a very short time period.
Mount Ruapehu with a wind storm on the tops.A post storm effect of high winds on the tops of Mount Ruapehu blowing the fresh snowfall into clouds of snow into the air with lenticular type clouds above.
After a clearing winter snow storm was revealed the fresh snow upon Mount Ruapehu and the fierce winds at the tops was blowing the snow of the ridges and creating a Lenticular type of cloud to form over the peaks of the mountain. A surreal effect.
A dawn panoramic view from the Desert Road looking at Mount Ngauruhoe with Red Crater to the right with the sunrise light just hitting the peaks.
Light trails at Ngauruhoe.Mount Ngauruhoe with the dawn light with the light trail from a passing high side truck leaving light trails leading to the mountain using a long exposure capture. A fun image using a long exposure technique capturing the tail lights of a passing high sided truck heading down the road which creates the impression of light beams emanating from Mount Ngauruhoe itself.
A alternative view looking at Mount Ruapehu in the background from the southern side with all the fresh snow on the mountain with the renaments of the recent snow fall on the fields surrounding the mountain adding a patchwork effect on the green grass making for a soothing effect of layers.
© Muzz Handley Photography