It’s not every day my job resembles a top secret James Bond 007 assignment.  But when Nikon Global asked me to undertake a photo shoot using their brand new, yet to be released, Nikkor AF-S 24-70mm f/2.8E ED VR lens things certainly started to look that way.  At the time there were only two of these lenses in existence, the one winging its way to me and another sent to a top portrait photographer in the UK.  Upon receiving the lens (hand delivered to me at Auckland Airport ex Tokyo) and once the appropriate paperwork was signed, my lips were sealed and the mission was underway!

First stop was a photo tour I was running in Papua New Guinea where I was able to use the lens a handful of times at discrete opportunities.  Photography in PNG is an incredible experience and one I will share with you in more detail in a future article.  From the largely untouched culture to the incredible landscapes of this jungle paradise it is certainly a worthy subject for travel photography…

From PNG it was back home and onto a plane for a quick road trip out of Queenstown.  Being originally from the South Island it is always great to get a project that allows me to choose the location and for this lens I really wanted to return to my roots and find some equally worthy photographic subjects amongst the stunning mountains and incredible scenery of New Zealand’s deep south.

First stop Milford Sound, no doubt New Zealand’s most photographed destination and in my eyes definitely one of the “World’s Great Wonders”.  I arrived late at night and spent the next day out on the boats in the driving rain this area is known for.  With a mean annual rainfall of nearly 7,000mm over 182 days a year, Milford can experience falls of up to 250mm during a 24 hour period!  With water thundering off the vertical cliffs around me it made for some great imagery and a chance to see the Sound at its natural best.  The next day was the polar opposite, calm weather with clear blue skies and tranquil reflections of the enormous peaks that surround and dominate the fjord.

Leaving Milford behind I swapped the West Coast for the East Coast and travelled further south and slightly off the beaten track to the rugged landscape of the Catlins, an area where I had spent a lot of time with my family when growing up.  Maybe not as well known, but certainly full of photographic potential with sights such as Purakaunui Falls and the Nugget Point Lighthouse amongst many others.  Arriving at Nugget Point prior to sunrise I was rewarded with a magical scene as the gently falling rain diffused the golden light of the sun and gave an orange glow to one side of my image.  Further south I took the short walk to the Falls where I had spent so much of my childhood – catching fresh water lobsters here while on holiday with my family.  Revisiting and photographing familiar sites like these was strangely emotional and a real highlight of my trip.

And then it was time to head back.  Last stop was “my second home” Glenorchy and the thrill of an early morning helicopter ride over the mountainous terrain that surrounds this tiny township.  Settled beneath the alps of Mount Aspiring National Park and the Fiordland National Park, Glenorchy is also the gateway to popular and well known walking tracks such as the Routeburn, the Greenstone, the Rees-Dart and the Caples Track.  Most will also know it as one of the locations featured in Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings films but to me it is simply my favourite place in this country and a true photographer’s paradise…  And the perfect spot to complete my undercover assignment.  Mission Impossible? No… Mission accomplished.

But most importantly, how did the lens perform?  Brilliantly.  Enough said.

A small selection of the images captured using the new Nikkor AF-S 24-70mm f/2.8E ED VR lens:

And how some of those images have been used by Nikon:

All images copyright Chris McLennan

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