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Tone's Paddock, Middlehurst Station, New Zealand. Photo by Tony Hewitt.

The fact that this location is called 'Tone's Paddock' and that the photo was taken by Tony Hewitt is purely coincidental. However, the fact that it's a photo I really love is annoying - because I didn't take it! It's on Middlehurst Station and it takes us around 30 minutes to drive there from our lodgings. We aim to arrive before sunrise to enjoy the light show, but every year it's a little bit different. There's more or less snow, higher or lower clouds, more or less water in the Tone's River (which you can see in the centre of the image).

So, why do I love this photo? Tony will probably agree with me when I say it won't win any photo competitions, but that's because the competition environment has a different set of rules and regulations. I know I have a lot to do with photo competitions and that my progress as a photographer has been greatly helped by the competition process (Tony too), but there is more to life. And to photography. 

I love this photo because of what it means to me. You may or may not respond as strongly, possibly because you haven't been there. You haven't been smitten!

And I have permission to love more than one image. Photography isn't a monogamous occupation. A collection of photos is often far better than a single frame. One of the reasons I love creating photo books is because, rather than agonising over a single best photo that represents a location, a concept or a person, I can select and present a number of images that build my story more completely. And this is one of the photos that would be at the centre of that story. It shows Middlehurst in all its glory - remote, harsh and brutal in a way that is invigorating, enthralling and exciting.

While I talk a lot about photo competitions and I'm a firm believer in the process, there is lots of room outside the competitive environment to just sit back and enjoy our images.

And if you'd like to expand your creative thinking with Tony and me in Middlehurst later this year, we are looking at putting on a second week. The first week is sold out, but we already have a couple of people asking if we have more room, so we're looking at 19 July. If you're interested, check out the website here and send us an email.

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