Michael Hrankowski  

That Wanaka Tree At Night by Michael Hrankowski

March 2023 - That Wanaka Tree At Night

About the Image(s)

The famous tree in Lake Wanaka in New Zealand is probably the most photographed tree in the world. At most times of day, there are multiple people on shore snapping away - some serious photographers, but mostly tourists with their cell phones. I wanted to present the tree in a different light - literally - from the usually seen renditions.

I got to the spot just about a half hour after sunset and set up. I wanted to experiment with light painting and I had purchased an adjustable beam torch (flashlight) earlier in the trip with just this composition in mind. The shot was achieved by trial and error and some luck. It was difficult to decide on the ideal camera settings as I needed to have everything in focus from the tree to the mountains and stars. After many different combinations of shutter speed, f-stop and light exposure, I got this one that seemed to have the best balance. (Please check out Group 99 for a different composition in monochrome)

Sony a6600 with 12mm (18mm FFA) Samyang f2.0 lens; 15 sec @ f/2.8; ISO 320

11 comments posted

Joan Field   Joan Field
This is a fantastic shot. I wish I could have gotten o New Zealand when the tree was still extant. I understand it is now gon. You have captured it perfectly with the faint glow of the projected lights on the tree and the wonderful starry sky, You did a great job. The only suggestion is that you crop in on the tree. As it is, it is somewhat centered and I would suggest the crop I am attaching. But the best thing about cropping is that you always have the original to go back to and cop or not crop as you choose. Wonderful job!   Posted: 03/05/2023 18:03:17
Comment Image

Michael Hrankowski   Michael Hrankowski
Hi Joan, and thank you for your comments and visual feedback. I am pleased to say you are misinformed about the tree!!!! My images were taken only just last month! There was, however, an instance (how long ago, I don't know) where some vandal cut off a large branch, possibly in protest of the tourism the tree brought in to Wanaka. Sadly, the perp was never caught and the tree continues to call people to Wanaka.

As to my crop choice, I chose it for several different reasons. The tree is often portrayed with a tight crop and I wanted to include more context. Also, I liked the effect of my torch beam in the foreground with the light reflecting and illuminating the stones. Lastly, the sky was so incredibly vast that I wanted to show as much of it as possible to (hopefully!) give the viewer a greater sense of awe. Please check out my image in Group 99. It's titled Lake Wanaka At Dusk, to emphasize the scene as a whole, rather than just the tree.   Posted: 03/06/2023 10:28:06
Joan Field   Joan Field
I understand where you're coming from. And I am very glad to hear tge tree remains for the photographic community. Your black and white image to me, although a different approach pales with your color image because the tree is no longer highlighted with your lighting effects. The biggest problem with the B &UW is that the tree melds into the hills in the background, so I much prefer your color version. It is really beautiful and as the maker, you were achieving your version of how small the tree is in the vast expanse of the heavens, but yet it is there, beautiful to behold.   Posted: 03/11/2023 18:59:03

Bob Legg   Bob Legg
(Groups 29 & 62 & 80)
Hi Mike. Fantastic job on the tree. FWIW I like more than either on group 99. The light painting, the reflection and the separation from the background make it extra beautiful.   Posted: 03/06/2023 14:43:16
Michael Hrankowski   Michael Hrankowski
Thanks Bob, and thanks for visiting   Posted: 03/20/2023 14:33:29

Kieu-Hanh Vu   Kieu-Hanh Vu
Hi Michael,
What a great shot! The lighting and the composition are well done. You've got all the elements of the beautiful night scene: blue hour, the starry sky, the lone tree, the reflection, and the stones in the lake. Your light painting experiment is excellent to illuminate the lone tree on the other side of the lake. The golden color of the tree is also a big plus to the scene.
I agree with you that leaving the tree in the vast starry sky gives the subject more weight and more attention. It's an excellent image and you should be proud of it!   Posted: 03/07/2023 15:09:16
Michael Hrankowski   Michael Hrankowski
Thank you, Kieu-Hanh for your kind words.   Posted: 03/20/2023 14:34:13

Mary Ann Carrasco   Mary Ann Carrasco
Well, Michael, what can I write here? Just a beautiful image you have made! I do like it better than the version in Group 99. And, I like your crop as well which shows the environment. Very very nice! This may print very well on metal. Regardless of what medium, print this and hang it up!   Posted: 03/10/2023 18:38:47
Michael Hrankowski   Michael Hrankowski
Thanks, Mary Ann. Our camera club is having an exhibition at our local community center and I'm considering this one as one of my allotted two images to present.   Posted: 03/20/2023 14:35:53

Ruth Sprain   Ruth Sprain
Michael, what a beautiful image! The light painting works well to make the tree stand out against the gorgeous, starred sky. The reflection of the tree adds a lot to the scene. Like Joan, I originally thought a bit of cropping of the sky would help. However with your explanation of capturing the vast sky, I honor your decision to try something different with a view of a fuller night sky. So glad to hear that the Wanaka tree is still standing, even if all the tourists can be a nuisance. Hope you have a great time in New Zealand! It's an amazing place to visit!   Posted: 03/20/2023 11:59:08
Michael Hrankowski   Michael Hrankowski
Thanks, Ruth. I appreciate your comments.   Posted: 03/20/2023 14:36:19


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