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  • John Gregory

The Fairlight Train Station

Updated: Jan 10, 2019




The Fairlight station was once a thriving tourist hub – and not that long ago.  It is located about 45 minutes from Queenstown, in the south of the New Zealand’s South Island.  Up until 2013 it was one end of the track used by the Kingston Flyer – an historic steam engine that hauled vintage carriages between Kingston and Fairlight.  It is still one end of that track, but the train no longer operates.


Documentary Photo


The old station offers a nice shot as a classic historic building with a mountain background and I have taken a few photos of it over the years.  But I was never there at the right time of the day to capture nice morning or evening light and the usual day time photos of it just seemed flat and not all that interesting other than simply documenting nice little building.




However in September 2018 I found myself driving through a snow storm between Te Anau and Queenstown.  It was spring in New Zealand at the time and the snow was unseasonably heavy in parts, but it was a pleasant enough drive with the roads clear of ice and no real wind to speak of. 




The Sheep Seemed Relaxed About the Conditions.


It was not however the sort of day to be stopping for a picnic at one of the many rest areas along the road and although the local sheep weren't overly happy about the conditions, they weren't overly upset either.



There was a opportunity to capture a monotone styled photo of a tree in a paddock. I gave that a go and was relatively pleased with the result. This entailed standing out in the snow with the tripod working with a few different lenses and compositions until I managed to isolate enough surrounding distractions from the image. It looks like it may be a black and white conversion, however it is full colour - there just wasn't a lot of colour around on this particular day.



It was the middle of the day as I came past the Fairlight Station and where in the past this had been a poor time of the day to take a photo because of the light – this day was totally different, with a gentle soft light, no harsh shadows and an opportunity to create a photo with a bit of depth.  This was looking like my chance to create a unique image so I pulled into the layby at the station.


Finally I Was Taking Photos in the Snow


I set the camera up on a tripod in the snow.  Since moving to the Christchurch in 2017, I had been waiting for a chance to photograph something, anything in the snow or after the snow.  It had been a very mild winter I had never taken photos in the snow before, and having watched a myriad of you tube clips on photographing in the snow and waiting all winter long for a decent snow fall – this spring snow was my first chance.

The composition was relatively straightforward.  A little bit of a curve from the driveway in front, the building left of centre and the mountain in the foggy background.  I was hoping a few falling snowflakes would add to the overall feeling of depth in the shot.





Its an okay shot – but as I looked at the image I didn’t feel cold.  I was cold when I took it.  But to me, this shot didn’t convey the cold.  A simple adjustment in post processing could have added a slight blue tint to cool it down a bit, but I wanted the snow to look pure white.  I had to ask myself – when do you ever finish processing a photo in photoshop???  And then I decided to take it a step further.   I wondered how it would look if I did actually take the photo at dusk and if someone had just turned the lights in front in preparation for the oncoming gloom of dusk.


Turning Day to Night


Using a straight forward technique I had read about turning day to night by Glyn Dewis on PeachPit , I tweaked the image to give the impression of dusk. While the area surrounding the station became very blue, in a way that definitely conveyed the feeling of cold, the warmth of the lights at the front contrasted nicely and allowed the snowflakes in the very front to be shown in pure white.





To see more of my images check out my website:

JohnGregoryPhotography.co.nz


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2018 John Gregory Photography

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