Mitch Brown Snowboarding, Blue Lake, New Zealand

Photograph by Tim Pierce

"It was a pretty surreal moment, and I can say strongly that I have never heard of anyone else snowboarding here before," says New Zealander Mitch Brown, seen near St. Bathans, an old gold- and coal-mining town in central Otago, New Zealand. The two-time Olympian is doing a tail-grab jump over some of the clay banks that surround a reservoir called the Blue Lake.

"With so much snow at the start of the 2013 Southern Hemisphere winter, our mission was to find an unusual place to go snowboarding and make the most out of the amazing snowfall," says Brown of this trip with photographer Tim Pierce. "We achieved more than we set out to do." Brown spends his winters in New Zealand's top ski town, Wanaka, then chases snow around the globe.

Getting the Shot

“It is very unusual to see this much snow in St. Bathans,” recalls photographer Tim Pierce. When the storm hit the region, Pierce jumped into action. “This was the frame I had in mind. I headed to this location, as I had seen mountain bike photos from around the lake and wanted to shoot a snowboarder there,” says Pierce.

Working with snowboarder Brown, Pierce took advantage of the morning light. “It was quite challenging getting into position to shoot this, hiking in deep snow, up slippery clay cliffs, with a lot of camera kit.” The duo targeted a curvaceous gully. "It had a lot of amazing shapes and forms and a good line for Mitch to snowboard," recalls Pierce. "We found a little roller that Mitch could pop off, and he completed the image with a stylish tweaked tail grab.

"It was a game of waiting for the right light and the clouds to disappear. After a few hours in this zone, the clouds parted, light popped, and there was not a breath of wind, which resulted in the lake mirroring its surroundings. It was surreal!”

Pierce photographed with a Canon 5DMK II and a 24-700mm lens.