1 April, 2011

The Queenstown Lookout

leaving new zealand

I was very sad to leave New Zealand Wednesday. After spending the last 3 weeks there, I feel like I barely scratched the surface. Even with three lifetimes it would be difficult to give it photographic justice. With each passing hour the landscape changes in unique and interesting ways, transforming every moment into something breathtaking. Whether warm and sunny or cold and foggy, the New Zealand Landscape is breathtaking.

Saying that, as a photographer I fear that all the post processing in the world wont be able to convey the emotional magnitude of witnessing New Zealand in person. Hopefully out of this mountain of unprocessed photos I have on my computer, at least one will have made the effort worth while.

One thing that was quite nice about leaving was getting to see Air New Zealand’s new safety video starring Richard Simmons. Yes, you read that correctly. I had no idea he was an international star. I always thought he was our (USA’s) dark little secret.

a remarkable view

This is an extremely popular view of Queenstown, New Zealand. In fact, it’s also one of the most common (and iconic) photos of New Zealand.

It’s no wonder why it is. Getting here is a simple matter of taking the Skyline Gondola to the top. It’s only 25 kiwi, and well worth it. You can also do it the hard way and walk to the top. — Let me know how that works out for you because I’ll be at the top 25 bucks lighter, sipping on a (double) espresso. I’m cheap, but not that cheap 😉

Anyway, It’s a phenomenal view of Queenstown and Lake Wakatipu. You even get a stunning shot of The Remarkables (mountain range) in the distance. If you hit it during the right time you can even get some white snow on the top of the ridge line. It was a bit chilly last week but I guess not chilly enough. Snow capped mountains would have looked great in this photo.

With such simple access to this lookout, the tricky bit was managing all the people. Absolutely nobody complained about me setting up a tripod and waiting for the right lighting. The issue was the vibration from all the foot traffic. With these long exposures, I had to take the exposure brackets when nobody was near me, or else the vibration would render my shots blurry. Luckily enough, it was a crystal clear night with no moving clouds to complicate the post processing.

Technical Mumbo Jumbo:

– Nikon D700 – Nikkor 14-24 f/2.8@ 24mm f/5.6 Iso: 100
– 5 Exposure Brackets (-2,-1,0,1,2)
HDR Photography Processing & Tone Mapping using Photomatix Pro
– Blended Elements of the original (neutral) exposure.
– Post Processing & Color Correction in Photoshop
– Enhanced detail with Nik Software Sharpener Pro
– Don’t be silly, of course I added the purple.

Daily Banana – The Queenstown Lookout

(move the slider to compare before and after)
[beforeafter] HDR Photo - New Zealand, Lake Wakatipu - The Queenstown Lookout[/beforeafter]
About the Author

Elia Locardi is an internationally acclaimed professional travel photographer, videographer, Fujifilm Global Ambassador, writer, public speaker, and highly skilled educator who spends his life shooting some of the most beautiful locations in the world.


As featured by Professional Photographer MagazineCNet Australia,, Wacom USA, and Fstoppers, Elia has built an engaged social media following of nearly 3 million people across FacebookGoogle+TwitterInstagramYouTube, and Snapchat. Due to the years of dedication and genuine openness with his audience, he has become one of the most followed photographers in the world.


Location independent since March of 2012, he and his wife live a 100% mobile lifestyle, perpetually traveling from country to country, continuously circling the globe. Since he began traveling full-time in 2009, he has visited more than 55 countries, flown over one million miles, and collaborated with major companies, brands, countries, and tourism agencies all over the world.


Using a combination of traditional in-camera techniques, targeted times of day, and advanced post-processing methods, Elia has developed a widely recognized and highly unique style of photography that has become well known around the world. With each photograph, his goal is to share his vision so others can see the world as he does, full of color, texture, beauty, depth and emotion. Many of his photos have been used in some of the most widely circulated publications in the world including National Geographic.


Throughout the journey, he shares the Art of Photography on many different websites including his popular blog, blamethemonkey.com, teaches post-processing workshops worldwide, speaks at major international photography conventions, and is proud to be one of the founders and leaders of Dream Photo Tours.

  • Codie

    Great shot!

    I was just recently Back home for a break from Uni, sadly I missed the very rare opportunity to get this shot with Queenstown absolutely blanketed in snow. The remarkables was just pure white! Talk about being home sick that week.

    I would love to see any other shots you manages to take of Queenstown, preferably the ones from more out there locations 😉 I love to see everyones different twists on our amazing town.

    Also you should have walked up! A few amazing photography opportunities and it’s only a 30-40 minute walk.

    Here are a few of mine if you wanted to browse over a few http://www.flickr.com/photos/codie/sets/72157594304346929/
    P.S Love your photography!!

    • Queenstown is a beautiful place. I can’t wait to get back there next year and take more pictures. I think I’ll have to spend at least a month there this time.

      I recognize a lot of the locations in your photos. Is that your home town?

      • Codie

        Yes, it sure is, I study at Uni in Dunedin, 3..5 hours down the road for most of the year now but I still spend 4 months a year in my amazing home town Queesntown. If you ever here you should give me a buzz, I can most definitely show you places most tourists would never know to find.

  • I am proud to say that I fell in love with Queenstown the first time my feet landed on the place. It’s worth the visit and worth coming back, too. If you are planning on visiting the place, check out some great Queenstown accommodation! There are lots!

  • Geoffrey Flaws

    Did you make it to Fiordland ? When my family from the UK visit, they don’t have it on their itinerary until I convince them to go. I my opinion it rivals Queenstown & I’d love to see your photos of the many wondrous places there.