Capturing Fiordland

 Read more from Lyn here

We never leave home without a camera when we travel so we can preserve the memories. On a recent Real Journeys cruise in Fiordland we took our Canon G12 (which has a great lens) as well as an almost defunct little Canon Digital Elph for a backup. It refuses to zoom properly. But when it poured with rain (as it often does in Fiordland) and we didn't want our good camera to get wet it was very handy.

We're just amateurs who simply love to catch the moment and rarely take the time to fiddle with Shutter and Aperture Speeds (which the G12 allows you to do, it's almost an SLR). So our cameras are usually set on automatic. Despite knowing that a tripod could make a difference we've never yet taken one, preferring to keep our cameras steady by holding them firmly which usually works. And if not, well there's always delete!

I like to think that you don't really need expensive camera equipment, or advanced technical skills to take a memorable pic. It's the eye behind the lens which counts.

Beautiful Place to Photograph

Fiordland ReflectionsFiordland proved to be a photographer's dream. The light on the dramatic landscape kept changing. Often the best time for taking a pic was when the skies were overcast. Trees clung precariously to craggy granite rock faces. Choppy grey seas and distant misty mountains made for almost eerie photographs, like haunting melodies.

When the sun did come out, and the sky turned blue we took photographs of waterfalls cascading down bush clad hills, and of the intensely green broccoli shaped tops of rata forests crowning the mountains.

In the early evening when the sun started its descent towards the horizon the colours changed rapidly and dramatically from minute to minute. The shadowy land and fiery night sky made for a magical contrast.

Magical Moment

On some days we went out sightseeing in the smaller Tender boat. In quiet inlets we were able to get close to mischievous baby fur seals sunning themselves on the rocks or playing in the water. Once we spotted two motionless shags perching on a branch.

Fiordland Seals & Sunset

When we were taken ashore for nature walks we hunted the wildlife with our cameras. An occasional bellbird flew high above us. But we failed to catch it on camera as either the foliage partially obscured it or it was too high up. And when a saddleback was briefly sighted the quick shot taken was unfortunately out of focus. We had better luck with a South Island robin that was happy to come close and was not at all camera shy.

Back out at sea Mollymawks (small albatrosses) circled our boat The Wanderer. Their swooping flight patterns made it tricky to take a still shot. It was better to make a small movie which is easy to do with a digital camera.

The dolphin pods (one numbering about a hundred) were also elusive. By the time we had pointed our cameras in the right direction at one taking a flying leap out of the water it had dived in again, only to surface once more in another unexpected place.

Food was a big part of our journey. Chrissy the chef produced a continuous stream of artfully arranged delicious meals. The trick was to take a quick shot before the food cooled down, and not to hold up other passengers who were keen to dig in.

Fiordland Seafood PlatterThe record of our journey would not have been complete without lots of people shots. As we had come with a group of our relations and friends there was no shortage of posers willing to brave the weather out on the deck in woolly hats, raincoats and gumboots or snug inside eating, drinking and playing scrabble.

But the most dramatic people moment was when John took an accidental tumble out of his kayak and had to be rescued and hauled aboard the Tender Boat. He managed a cheerful smile despite looking like a drowned rat.

Don't Forget to Give Your Camera a Break

Fiordland John Looking Like a Drowned RatSometimes you can be so busy clicking and capturing the moment that you miss seeing the larger picture. This was brought home on our last day when Captain Glen turned off the engine and asked us to stand quite still for a few minutes, no cameras, and no chatter.

As we stood on the deck in total silence we were suddenly surrounded by the birdsong that the engine noise had obscured. And I think we all felt awed by the green and majestic hills surrounding us which belong to all New Zealanders. Ours to enjoy, ours to protect and conserve for future generations.

Read more about Lyn and John Potter's Travels here.