Photographing Aoraki Mount Cook
By Mark Watson
$35, New Holland
A key, for me, of landscape photography, is for the image to make me want to go there, and even, in the best images, to feel as though I am there; somehow part of the picture.
The big problem for a landscape photographer, I imagine, apart from ISO settings, f-stops and shutter speeds, is quite simply the bigness of the subject. And, let’s face it, in New Zealand, there is not much that is bigger than Aoraki/Mt Cook.
Then, in alpine environments, weather can play a big part, though not as much as light, which Watson says is ‘the single biggest factor that underpins enduring landscape photography’.
Over four years and, in all seasons, Watson climbed, tramped and photographed the park. He must be a patient man, waiting among the cold mountain air, for the sun to rise, shadows to shorten, or alpenglow to appear. And how he chose the particular images for the book, from what must be an extensive library, would be an interesting discussion.
This book is more than a delightful photographic record of the area around Mt Cook. Watson fits each group of images into brief descriptions of trips that can range from 10 minutes to Mueller Lake Overlook, to a 3-4 hour tramp to Mueller Hut or Sefton Biv.
Between these trips are sections with tips and techniques for landscape photographers, both pro and beginner, including an honest assessment of compact and phone photography.
Finally, Watson points his camera higher even than Mt Cook, up there among the stars. As he explains: ‘Aoraki/Mount Cook Village is in the Aoraki Mackenzie Dark Sky Reserve, one of the best stargazing sights on earth due to its clear air and lack of light pollution’.
This is a book by a highly skilled and creative photographer that puts you in the picture and that you won’t regret buying.