Nikkor 50mm f/1.8
“When I visited New Zealand for a month-long photo excursion in April of 2012, I had a motto: Go big or go home. And what I meant by that was “do it right;” figure out the shots I wanted and do what it took to get those shots. Instead of saying things like “oh, that would be a great shot, if only…..” I decided to take that “if only” out of my vocabulary, and just do what it took to get the photo that I wanted. One of the images I wanted to create was a dramatic view of the Southern Alps from a high perspective, which is something you don’t often see. Since I have no alpine climbing experience the best option for me to get an up-high view was to take a scenic flight around the Southern Alps. I booked on the earliest morning flight I could, hoping that the low sun would provide some interesting light. I also researched the flight path of the trip and specifically requested to sit in the far back left of the cabin to get the best angles and light.
The flight and I were ready to go until at just the last minute, just as we were about to take off, the plane was called back to the hangar so that another passenger could join us. He was a bigger guy and re-balancing the plane’s load with him in it meant I couldn’t sit in the back left anymore. Instead the crew shuttled me to the co-pilot’s seat in the front right. Exactly opposite where I wanted to be! So with a resigned sigh I jumped in front, disappointed that I wouldn’t be in my ideal position, but excited that I could at least pretend to fly the plane.
But just as I suspected, the co-pilot’s seat was far from ideal when it came to photography: the front windscreen and side windows were tiny, and I sat right underneath the wing, which meant that my wide-angle shots were full of struts and ailerons. That seat also faced me away from all the best mountains and I got only sidelong glances at the major peaks like Aoraki and Tasman. However, at one point in the flight this seat proved to be the best in the house: we flew over the delta of the Godley River just where it empties into the startlingly blue Lake Tekapo. And as we did so the pilot performed a sweeping banked turn which gave me a spectacular view 6,000 feet straight down onto this beautiful confluence. I had my 50mm prime lens on at the time and was able to snap a mere two frames before the perspective shifted as we leveled out.
Ironically, despite the fact that I didn’t create any memorable mountain photos during that flight, it was still one of the highlights of my Kiwi adventure. Thanks largely to this photo, which has become one of the most unique and interesting shots in my portfolio.
Processing: The processing on this shot was quite simple and straightforward. Because this image was taken through an airplane window it was initially very low contrast. Using Nikon’s Capture NX2 I greatly increased the contrast of the original file, and did some minor color correction. Then in Photoshop I sharpened parts of the image, and did some minor dodging and saturation increases to bring out the vivid blues in the lake.”
— Joshua Cripps