Journey to the Lakes
The sky outside at home had been grey for days. In fact the weather experts were telling us it had been eight days since we last saw sunshine. Apparently the record had recently been broken by a moment that morning when the sun had struggled through the clouds for 12 minutes before disappearing behind the grey gloom again. I must have been inside packing my bag.
We set off across the Canterbury Plains with the windscreen wipers beating across the window. Dairy cows huddled in rain-soaked paddocks. The damp gear and clothing from packing the car in the rain were steaming up the windows, filtering our views of the countryside speeding by. After a time we found ourselves on a long straight pointing towards Mount Somers, and in the distance we saw something that made us double take. A valley bathed in beams of sunlight appeared in the distance straight ahead of us – Surely that could not be where we were heading?
Passing through the small village of Mount Somers there was a growing sense of excitement as we realised that our destination was indeed up this sun bathed valley. It seemed too good to be true and we wondered if this golden light would last.
After so many days of grey, we were well disposed to appreciate the 36 hours that followed. The clouds broke up creating gaps for the light to touch the tussock clad hillsides, and even occasionally the sun would light up the snowy mountain tops. The temperature was still chilly at best, but armed with layers and layers of clothing I was able to perch almost comfortably on my sketching stool wrapped up with the equivalent insulation of a down sleeping bag, with only the tips of my fingers and face exposed to the cold air.
Sometimes when out sketching I choose a subject to challenge myself or to practise a new skill. With this sketch of the Maori Lakes I was making an attempt at capturing reflections – something I have had little practice at. The other challenge was capturing the negative space created by the low cloud across the mountains. This is an instance where I have accepted an unbalanced composition in the interests of developing skills in other areas.
While halfway up Mount Sunday I paused to look out across the valley, and really loved the contrasting landscapes that the view encompassed: The rocky outcrops, jagged mountains, cultivated farmland and scrubby river flats. I did eventually make it to the top of Mount Sunday, but only after having a leisurely pause to capture this scene first!
This was my second attempt of the trip at reflections. I was also interested in the colours of the sky and hills. Lake Heron was almost perfectly still except for the movement of a swan that moved backwards and forwards across the lake – much to the frustration of the photographers in our party. I simply let him float out of my composition as I didn’t feel up to adding ripples on top of the reflections – maybe next time!
Sketching at the Ashburton Lakes
There are a myriad of spectacular views and interesting landscapes to capture in this area, and I could easily have spent days sketching without getting bored of the scenery. However, when we woke on Sunday morning, the weather had set in again, and the mountains were hidden behind a heavy persistent downpour.
The break in the weather had ended.