During our recent trip to New Zealand my wife and I took part in a Hobbiton Movie Set Tour. Fans of the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit movies will be familiar with this unique site.
My wife thoroughly enjoyed the tour, as did I – even though I have not read any of the Lord of the Rings trilogy nor seen any of the related movies.
NOTE: Click on images to enlarge.
The tour takes groups through the movie set that was constructed on a 1,250 acre sheep farm in the Waikato area.
After using this location for the original Lord of the Rings movies Sir Peter Jackson returned in 2009 to film the Hobbit movie trilogy.
The site features a total of 44 permanently reconstructed Hobbit Holes with the same details seen in the movies.
We found our tour guide to be very personable and knowledgeable and it was fascinating to hear about the attention to detail that Sir Peter Jackson insisted upon during the construction of the movie set and during filming.
Individual Hobbit Holes were built to different specifications depending on the height of the actors in order to achieve the size perspectives required in the various movie scenes.
A bus fleet transports people from the main gate and staging area to the Hobbiton Movie Set. It is a pleasant drive through some idyllic New Zealand countryside.
The cost per person was $79 NZ for adults and $39.50 for youths 9-16 years for the Hobbiton Movie Set Tour. Children up to 8 are free. Some folks may find this a bit pricey, but we felt the tour was very unique and the experience worth the cost.
Being on a tour with about 25-30 other people in your group does present some challenges from a photography standpoint. You do need to compose and capture images very rapidly if your objective is to have photographs without tourists in them.
I enjoyed the challenge of walking up to each Hobbit Hole and trying to quickly visualize my shots as well as alternative compositions.
At times I only had a second or two to capture my images before tourists entered the frame.
Given the number of people touring through the site at any given time it is best to plan to shoot hand-held. Using a tripod or monopod could be problematic. Using a zoom lens will provide a lot of flexibility with your framing.
I shot in aperture priority mode to achieve the desired depth-of-field and adjusted my ISO to impact shutter speed in order to compensate for flower and foliage movement due to the breezy conditions.
The Hobbiton Movie Set Tour includes a visit to the Green Dragon Inn and a complimentary beverage which includes various beers or hard cider if desired. Food is also available at additional cost.
Always up for a photographic challenge, I used some of my time at the Green Dragon Inn to practice my slow shutter speed hand-holding technique with my Nikon 1 J5, attempting some images at 1/8 and 1/15 of a second.
It is important to note that one of the conditions of entry to the Hobbiton Movie Set Tour is that you are not allowed to use any of your photographs for commercial gain. If you plan on using any images on your blog etc. it is best to contact the owners of the Hobbiton Movie Set site and obtain permission (as I did) before publishing your images on line. Under no circumstances will you be allowed to make and sell prints of your images.
I used my standard process of OpticsPro 11, CS6 and Nik Suite to process all of the images in this article from RAW files. All were shot hand-held in available light. I applied some perspective control adjustments in OpticsPro 11 to a number of images in this article.
If you are planning a visit to New Zealand the Hobbiton Movie Set Tour is certainly worth serious consideration. We had folks from all over the world in our tour group which added to the experience.
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