At the mouth of Tauranga Harbour is Mount Maunganui. It was many thousands of years ago a volcano. It’s a bit of a right of passage when you come to this part of New Zealand to walk up the mount. Because it’s right on sea level it really is an incredible sight and not the easiest of walks. The view is pretty incredible even if the vegetation blocks about 60% of it. And I probably should pull my finger out and get some shots of Mount Maunganui but the fact is I got sidetracked.
The first few weeks I was here were in October. I was walking down the mount when I noticed too things. One, the mountainside is pretty well lit but the sky above is dark. Two, October is the perfect time of the year to see the Milky Way. Even though there is a small cities worth of light, the distinct heart of our galaxy is pretty clear. Normally the light pollution would drown it out, and if you don’t know what to look for you’d probably miss it anyway. On the side of the mountain you get the balance.
This is where the photos of the mountain in all its glory became problematic. Get too close and you can capture the Milky Way but lose the distinct volcanic shape. Get to far away and your in the light pollution and lose the Milky Way. I had to pick one or the other. The window for the clear galaxy shot closes in late October and the mountain is always there. So I sacrificed the hills for the skies.
Five nights in a row I froze on the side of that hill. I played around with different positions on the hill and different camera settings and a few long exposure shots to see what I could get. Every night the wind rolled in from the near by Pacific Ocean and every tree branch swayed and creaked, creating a noise and movement old horror movies did so well. And your not alone up there. A few hundred sheep mill around feeding and moving in the edge of your field of vision, basically scaring the hell out of you. Just the type of thing an overactive imagination like mine truly needs.
But with the window of time before such shots would be impossible nearing its end, it was worth the occasional jump scare from the wind, the trees and the sneaky sheep. I lost a bit of the mountains majesty but that sky was worth it. So I’m happy I chose the sky. But that mountain is going to look amazing when I get to it. I’m thinking a sunset shot will be the way to go