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© Stephanie Vogel

Stephanie Vogel had always longed to travel to New Zealand, but she was never able to carve out the time to go. This past March, she finally made the time, setting aside a month to visit some must-see sites like Mount Cook and the pancake rocks and blowholes of Punakaiki, as well as to do some mountain biking in Rotoroa. "That's my absolute favorite sport, and it was some of the best mountain biking I've ever done in the world," she says.

For her treks around the island nation, Stephanie brought along the new Tamron 16-300mm VC PZD lens. "I thoroughly enjoyed using this lens there," Stephanie says. "For one, it's quite compact. I moved around from place to place and didn't have to lug many lenses around for different scenes. Then there's the dust and dirt factor that goes into bringing multiple lenses and having to switch them out, which I didn't have to deal with. Finally, having the Vibration Compensation (VC) feature on that lens to prevent camera shake was handy since I shot everything handheld. Sometimes I was on a boat, and the VC was very desirable when the seas weren't cooperating."

Working with whatever Mother Nature presented to her on any particular day meant Stephanie had to stay flexible in her shooting times and techniques. "I mostly had to shoot whenever time allowed," she says. "Sometimes there was a hike and I didn't get to the site until midday, like in my photo of Fox Glacier near the more scenic side of the West Coast of the South Island. Sometimes there was a lot of vegetation and I had to shoot in low light. So I really had to make do with whatever came my way, and the 16-300 gave me the flexibility and mechanics to do that."

The local flora and fauna gave Stephanie the chance to use the 16-300 at a variety of focal lengths. "Shooting wildlife is tricky," she says. "The majority of wildlife I came across in New Zealand were fur seals—and luckily, they're very lazy and make great still subjects. But it’s important to not get too close, which is where I found the telephoto zoom to be handy on this lens. I was able to take images of the animals while still keeping my distance and not disturbing them."

Although Stephanie doesn't consider herself a landscape photographer, landscapes are New Zealand's claim to fame, so she tried to brush up on her landscape photography skills before she arrived. "First off, I wanted to create depth in my images, making sure there was something interesting in the foreground, as well as in the background," she explains. "Holding the camera straight and using the guides in my camera's viewfinder also helped with my compositions."