Nailing magical moments
Music festivals can be many things to many people - an excuse to party harder than usual, a rite of passage, or a chance to experience concentrated, varied live music all in one, invariably beautiful place.
Rhythm and Alps, in the first year of its move to the deep south of Robrosa Station in the Cardrona Valley, has just become the South Island's largest ever music festival, with almost 10,000 people entering the festival site from December 30.
My main thing at festivals is magic moments.
You don't know what they are until after you've had them, and they could take on many guises.
A magic moment could be meeting someone amazing who'll be a new friend, having a dancefloor epiphany, or simply stumbling upon a new band or artist that will change your life.
So, when walking through the security checkpoints to get into the festival I was casually wondering whether I would be lucky enough to experience any magic moments.
Casual is the way to go on this kind of stuff - if you overthink or overanalyse you're going to hex the good luck required to get a magic moment in the first place, and miss out completely, so I just drift through security and enjoy the people watch.
Opening night provides lots of standout moments.
The mighty ShapeShifter doing an extended set that is sublime.
Brutally heavy where it needs to be and taking flight in the moments of counterpoint.
Chatting to ShapeShifter frontman P-Diggs backstage directly afterwards and reassuring him that the set wasn't too long.
''Bang on bro. Perfect length - no lags, just peaks.''
Bailing from tent city at 3am to hit the dancefloor I find Concord Dawn, with Camo MC smashing out an amazing set, which kept me smashing it till 6am.
Day two brings its own changes.
Everyone's seems a bit jaded from the night before, and it's not until mid afternoon that our part of tent city gets its groove on again, thanks to the six packs of Wild Turkey that are available at the bar.
I duck out a few times during the afternoon to check on the music, but kicking back in camping chairs with mates and new mates who are all having a great time is hard to beat, so I stick with that until it's time to start working.
At 7pm I'm shooting The Veils.
An enigmatic band led by Kiwi Finn Andrews, their first album, Nux Vomica was huge, sprawling and sublime.
I get there when the band should be starting, but discover the schedule has crept forward by about half an hour, and they're into their last two songs - so I'd better concentrate on getting some killer shots.
Despite having to remain steady, inside I'm buzzing as those last two songs unfurl.
Jesus For The Jugular and Nux Vomica, two favourites off album one.
So the band finishes, thanks to the attentive cheering audience, and that part of the festival, the jagged rock 'n' roll part of it anyway, is over, and I start checking my shots.
I'm standing in the barrier between the stage and get a tap on the shoulder.
I turn around and a guy in the crowd asks if I can grab a set list.
I oblige and one of the roadies rips the set list off the stage floor and hands it to me.
The guy is so stoked he looks like he's gonna self-implode.
He explains that he's a super fan.
He has Nux Vomica on white vinyl and this is the first time he's seen them live in eight years.
That The Veils were the reason he drove down from Christchurch for the festival.
We geek out about The Veils for a few minutes, then as he walks off reading his set list, which has just become a cherished memento, I realise I've just had a magic festival moment.