Capturing stunning Central Otago landscapes is all in the timing, and patience is a virtue.

Just ask Cromwell’s Stephen Patience, who seeks out locations beyond the norm and braves freezing conditions to capture time-lapse imagery from dusk to dawn.

A brief clip of about five minutes can comprise about three years’ worth of work, and getting to some of the locations he works from can require a helicopter, a sleeping bag and patience — no pun intended.

At a glance, his work appears as a video, but is in fact a selection of time-lapse photographs.

Patience said Central Otago ‘‘lends itself to some great opportunities’’ for photography, including postcard-style landscapes and crystal-clear night skies.

Some of his chosen locations are top secret, including one he had seen through someone else’s work.

‘‘I saw it as a photo first,’’ he said.

‘‘It took me about six months to find out where that was.’’



After further investigation, Patience discovered it was going to take two days to hike to the spot, so ended up hiring a helicopter.

His expedition meant setting up a campsite for himself and letting the camera roll throughout the night, where it captured images of the sunset, the Milky Way and sunrise.

‘‘What I like about time lapse more than anything is the transition from day to night — when the stars start emerging,’’ he said.

The time involved and the elements his gear is exposed to mean having to travel well prepared, with backup battery packs and de-misting equipment to protect the camera.

He estimates just a quarter of his time is spent taking the photos; the rest is spent working on the computer, doing things such as stitching the images together.

Patience, who does photography in his spare time, has specialised in time-lapse photography for the past seven years.

‘‘I got into it by looking on YouTube and I’ve been a photographer for a long time. But, time lapse became quite popular about 10 years ago,’’ he said.

‘‘You could see people in America doing it and I thought ‘ I’ve got to get into this’.’’

Among his portfolio of work are images of city life, including a bird’s-eye view overlooking Wellington.

His work has gained him a National Geographic award and has most recently been added to Winterstellar, an astro exhibition that celebrates Matariki and, in particular, the Central Otago night sky.

The exhibition is on at Central Stories Museum and finishes on August 28.

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