20. Spring willows and traffic from Waimarama, Hawkes Bay

Spring willows and evening traffic from Waimarama, Hawkes Bay. 7.55pm, 22 September 2010

So it can’t be daylight with a sweeping light trail like that, can it? The distant glow of  Waimarama township also gives it away. I prefer traffic going the other way for those fine red streaks, but in this wide angle view the headlights aren’t overpowering and colourwise they set off well the spring yellow of the willow buds. I had started with the bare trees on the right, but on their own that was less successful.

For this moonlight photography composition in classic thirds (or is fourths?) I used maximum aperture at f2.8, for 13 seconds, ISO 2000. Light balance was on auto, not tungsten, for spring warmth. Getting your shutter open just before the headlights show up isn’t that simple. For example, using the self-timer instead of a remote release adds a few seconds’ delay to the process, while timing the length of exposure to get the full sweep of the lights is another variable. Practice, practice.

The location is the top of the hill where so many summer photos of this coast must get taken. There was surprising traffic both ways for a Wednesday night, and I was happy to be well above it on a side road. However I do admit that I began at the layby, the usual vantage point – taking the same postcard scene I’d noted in town earlier in the day – before it occurred to me to wander down the side road in search of other viewpoints.

The bits and pieces in the foreground were not removed because I did not notice them at the time. Here by the roadside gumboots saved the day once again in the usual mud-bites-man encounter… Waimarama has a tavern, shop, old church and a playcentre. Also a domain, we discovered. Offshore is Bare Island, impressively cliff-bound from the beach but evidently on the seaward side it’s of easier contour and vegetated.