Looking Beyond The Obvious

21 12 2009

Learning to see not just the big picture the grand scenic which is the heart of landscape photography but also the the details and the abstracts that tell the story on a more personal level.
David Ward a leading British landscape photographer calls these shots “Inner landscapes” and learning to see these is a skill I want to develop more. Sometimes less than ideal conditions for the grand landscape will work well on details thus increasing the opportunities in the field.

Kelp Oneils Bay

A recent example while waiting for sunset I saw this kelp with the sun back lighting it and decided to get in close with the 70-200mm . I tend to  use the 17-40 stuck at 17mm for a lot of my work so its good to look at the tighter detail too and increase my vision.

Trackside Ferns Waitawheta Tramway

Another detail on a hike earlier in the year I saw these ferns on the track side and was attracted by the symmetry of the leaves also on the same walk there is this delightful little waterfall the light was too contrasty to show the complete scene but there was this  little detail complete with rainbow .

Flossies Falls Waitawheta Tramway

I need to learn better how to see the trees for the forest sometimes. The simple images are often the most effective.


Sunrise Sunset

12 11 2009

Ever notice how it is every time you have other commitments or couldn’t be bothered there always seems to be a spectacular sunset/sunrise?

Then when you make the effort like as not the sunset was a fizz-er. Well that’s the way it often seems to me.There is a certain element of luck as well as planning involved in getting those spectacular shots . The planning part is finding a location and knowing where and when the sun will rise or set because blundering around in the dark of the morning looking for a location isn’t going to work. At sunset you have the opportunity of getting there an hour or so prior in order to find the ideal shot. The luck part is over to the weather but if your not there you won’t get the shot so  to a certain degree we have to make our luck. 

Clear skys are invariably disappointing you need a few clouds to show some colour of course too many clouds can be problem too because you won’t see the sun at all . The most colourful sunsets/sunrise are often when there are lots of cloud with a clear area just on the horizon allow the sun to light up the clouds underneath.Many times it all won’t come together as you had hoped but its always enjoyable to have got out in nature and often you come back with a compelling image even if it didn’t happen as you had hoped. Then there are the times when it all comes together and that makes up for the disappointments. The biggest technical challenge in photographing at these times is controlling the contrast,  making the use of graduated neutral density filters very helpful to retain detail in all parts of the image.

As a landscape photographer I favour these times of the day when the light is warm and directional showing creations splendor to it best advantage.

Tawharanui Regional Park

28 10 2009

Another jewel in the crown of the Auckland region a beautiful park within easy drive from Auckland featuring beaches and bird life. We spent labour weekend camping here a nice spot though the facilities are basic. Number one Son enjoyed himself but the wee girl was ill and out of sorts vomited on the way in fun fun!

The 588-hectare park is New Zealand’s first integrated open sanctuary (mainland island) where farming, public recreation and conservation of native species combine. The name Tawharanui translates as “the abundant bracts of the kiekie vine”. The iconic Anchor Bay is named after the anchor of the Phoenix, a vessel wrecked on the Tawharanui coastline in 1879.

The weather was kind to us and only rained on the final monday as we were packing to go. I managed sunrises and sunsets every day getting up at 4.15 am to walk to Tokatu Point for Sunrise one morning.

The mornings were the best as I had the place to myself and could enjoy the scene sans drunken louts and other inconvenient persons who at sunset do insist on getting in the way.

I mostly focused on landscapes but there were opportunity for bird photography too which I shall do more of next time.

Tiritiri Trip

29 09 2009


A few shots from our recent day trip to Tiritiri Matangi Island the weather was a little fickle with showers though this did help with managing the contrast somewhat but also made things rather dim though it did clear up by the time we had to go.



The use of flash to balance the light is pretty much essential due to the contrast and low light conditions.The only real negative photographically  is that most of the birds are banded though some of the more numerous species are not.

Tiritiri Matangi translates as ” Looking to the wind”. Located 30km north east of central Auckland and just 4km from the end of Whangaparaoa Peninsula, Tiritiri Matangi Island is one of New Zealand’s most important and exciting conservation projects.


Unwanted predators have been eradicated, and the once-pastoral island has been replanted with native trees. Rare native birds and animals have been returned to its now-safe and restored habitats. It is an experience to see how our forests should be alive with birdsong and activity but mankinds meddling has destroyed much.

Male Stitchbird

Male Stitchbird

It is possible to book and stay overnight in the bunkhouse this is well worth doing as as the ferry leaves at 3.30 sharp along with the crowds furthermore you can see Kiwi by night and we will be doing it again soon.We have enjoyed several day trips and two overnight stays on the Island and I can thoroughly recommend a visit.

Upgrade the camera or the photographer?

19 09 2009

Every six months or so the camera manufacturers come out with a new bit of gear regular as clock work. There are some who feel obliged to upgrade as to not have the latest would make them second rate. Now on doubt some folks can afford to do this and more power to them cause they keep the industry in business . For most of us this is simply not practical nor affordable but this doesnt stop us from wanting. Somehow the ads seem to convince us if only we had that latest gadget our photography would be all so much better.

Winter Gardens Auckland City

Winter Gardens Auckland City

Well the truth is that unless our current gear is soo lame its unlikely anyone will be able to see a difference. Further more if our photography is bad it will still be bad albeit with more pixels. Much better then to invest in learning and practicing with what we have than getting the latest every time they come along.

Mokoroa Falls Goldies Bush West Auckland

Mokoroa Falls Goldies Bush West Auckland

Another point to remember is that in order to double the resolution in real terms you need 4x the megapixels for example the resolution of the 5D (12mpix) is 2300 LPH vs 5DMk2(21mpix) 2800 LPH (Source DPreview ) that is only a 22% increase in resolution useful but not as much as the numbers would suggest. So if you are like me and sometimes want that new toy but can’t afford it remember it’s not the gear but the photographer holding it that make the biggest difference.

Karearea, the New Zealand falcon

12 08 2009

Over the weekend we had the pleasure to visit Wingspans Birds of Prey Trust in rotorua well worth a visit both on the educational front and as a photography opportunity.NZ Falcon

Fascinating subject with eyesight said to be six times more powerful than humans, flying at speeds up to 230 kmh and uttering a short terrifying scream, the falcon will fall upon some hapless bird in mid flight. The manoeuvre is called a stoop, a trademark of the attacking falcon.  They practice falconry and there are opportuinties for flight photos if you have the skill

Falco Novaselandiae

I need to practice so more before I can hope to get flight shots

The folly of judging

19 07 2009

As a member of a camera club I have had the dubious pleasure of observing first hand how subjective and personal photography is. Witness a recent entry seen in the previous blog looking at the judges own work this rendition would have had more success.Upper Nihitipu Falls

One of the problems  with judging photography is that personal taste must  colour opinion and at club level here in NZ with only one judge on the night the placing you get will vary considerably between judges and even on different occasions and invariably the style or genre the judge prefers will win the day.

Even at national competition level you often see a particular style of work being favoured take a look at the recent AIPP awards to see this graphically demonstrated notice with a few exceptions the particular colouration and pp treatment of the winning entries.

You can see that if you want to do well in such competitions you need to emulate this style.

So far from advancing photography by encouraging the development of the photographers own style and vision such competitions foster a stylistic straitjacket.Infrared Melbourne

To quote from an excellent book I have been enjoying “Like cooking photography is a matter of taste, a matter of relative not absolute value” and equally apt Photographs are never wholly mirrors nor wholly windows: they are more akin to semi-silvered glass upon which a ghostly representation of the photographers intent is mingled with a reflection of our own concerns and through which we see an incomplete image of the world” LANDSCAPE WITHIN by David Ward.

In view of that I believe the idea of judging photography as if were a competitive sport is a mistake after all the success of an image must vary from person to person and indeed only the author can know what the original intent was.