Golden Hour at Nugget Point


At the bottom of the world; the ends of the earth, really, lies this magic landmark.

Situated near the southernmost point of New Zealand's South Island, this remote headland is named for the dozen rock stacks that defiantly rise above the pounding Pacific.

Above, a relatively tiny lighthouse stands sentinel among sheer cliff faces and dense coastal vegetation. A surprisingly effortless path threads through this wild and desolate seascape to a wooden viewing platform, where one admires the abundant wildlife below.

Although it was Autumn, more than a dozen photographers braved the frigid temperatures to shoot the dawn. My tenuous position on a knife-edge ridgeline provided the perfect composition: the lighthouse breaking a boring horizon, and the Nuggets nicely scattered like dice over the ocean.

Settings: Aperture: f/22 | Shutter Speed: 1.5 seconds | ISO: 100 | Focal length: 17mm Canon 5D Mark III (full-frame DSLR).

By pointing the DSLR away from the blazing sun, I avoided lens flare ruining the shot. This allowed me to use an ND filter to blur the swelling tide, adding a point of difference; the movement that only a long exposure can depict.

In Photoshop, I fused 2 or 3 exposures together so as to contain the high level of contrast in the scene. A Detail Extractor plugin was used to bring out the gorgeous texture in the shadowy headland below the lighthouse. Mid-tone contrast was boosted to make this photo really pop, before the composite image was sharpened.

You can follow my tutorial on exactly how I tweaked this image on the ultimate landscape masterclass, LOCATIONZ. Or just enjoy our road trip video series on YouTube: EPISODE FOUR | Nugget Pt & McLean Falls

Settings: Aperture: f/16 | Shutter Speed: 30 seconds | ISO: 100 | Focal length: 30mm Canon 5D MarkIII, using NiSi 6-stopper ND filter with v5 kit.

[ If camera settings are still confusing, enroll in my Discover Your DSLR course ]

Keyword: landscape photography south island nz, new zealand landscape photography

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