New Zealand FAQ's - Don Smith Photography

Can I pay with a credit card? Full payment can be made with a credit card through PayPal; any PayPal payment less than the full workshop amount will have a 3% credit card fee added. E-mail Don or Gary to request a PayPal invoice. Don Smith: don@donsmithphotography.com ; Gary Hart: gary@garyhartphotography.com.

Can my wife/husband/friend share my room? Because we're providing transportation with only enough space for the workshop participants, their gear and luggage, only full-paying participants can join us.

Where do I fly to? The Workshop will begin and end in Queenstown, New Zealand. The Mercure Queenstown Resort (where we will begin and end the Workshop) will have a shuttle to get you to and from the airport.

Why winter? We only offer workshops when and where we would photograph on our own. We chose winter for New Zealand simply because that's when the photography is best: low angled sunlight, lots of snow on the mountains, and beautiful clouds and fog. But winter has other advantages: it's much less crowded; flights are cheaper; the days are refreshingly short (sunrise around 8:30; sunset around 5:15).

How much hiking will there be? There will a few moderate walks at a photographer's pace (time to shoot along the way), but nothing that requires significant fitness. If you can walk two miles with a few hills, you'll be fine.

What's the weather like? New Zealand Southland winter weather is chilly but not extreme. It's similar to a far Northern California or Oregon winter, with highs in the 40s and low-50s and lows in the 20s and 30s. Rain falls in the low elevations, and snow in the higher terrain. This year Don and Gary were there during an extremely cold spell (everyone was talking about it), and we had mostly highs in the 30s and low-40s; our coldest morning low was 18F. We saw a little light rain, and had very little wind. We were able to stay quite comfortable with our standard winter wear and felt no need to go out and purchase anything extra to keep us warm.

What will the workshop days be like? Every day will be a little different, but the emphasis will be on shooting whenever conditions cooperate. Many of our drives between lodging cities include  fantastic photo opportunities that we'll take advantage of at every opportunity. Because we'll stay in different towns, most of our sunrise/sunset locations will be fairly close to our hotels. With 8:30 (ish) sunrises, we won't need to start super early. And with 5:15 sunsets, we'll be back in time for a reasonable dinner and some quality evening time for rest, socializing, or image processing.

Will there be training? Given the amount of photography we have planned, training will happen more in the field and on the road than in a classroom (though there could be some classroom time too). Much of the training schedule will depend on the photography conditions we encounter, but we want everyone to feel that they've received all the guidance they need to get the shots they want, and to become better photographers.

How much driving will there be? We've organized our locations to minimize the travel time between lodging destinations, and to break up as much of our drive time as possible with photo opportunities. We also will stay consecutive nights in most locations. Most of our lodging locations are 2-3 hours from each other. We do have one 4 1/2 hour drive, but it will be broken up by some fantastic locations that will mean nearly an entire day of beautiful photography.

Do I Need Converters for my Electronics and Phone? All plugs in New Zealand are 220V and will require a simple converter that you can purchase at most electronic stores (Best Buy, Radio Shack, etc.) or even online via Amazon. They are about $12-$15 per plug and we recommend two and a US power strip and you can charge as many items as you need. We are all Apple and everything worked fine and even our Sony battery chargers worked great. It is really a non-issue but best to check with your product.

Who will my instructors be? Both Don Smith and Gary Hart will be leading this workshop. All locations we will be taking you to have personally been scouted and photographed by us.


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