Behind The Shot

Happy Trails

Happy Trails
Canon 6D MKII, 24-70mm lens @ F14, 1/800s, ISO800

with Teresa Angell

Teresa, can you introduce yourself to us?

I grew up in the Waikato and Bay of Plenty, then moved down to the Wellington region in the early 1990s with my husband and our two children. Since 2005 we’ve been enjoying life on the Kapiti Coast. I no longer work full time, which allows me total flexibility to pursue my photography.

My hobbies: riding my mountain and motorbikes, going for walks and keeping up with our young grandchildren reflect my love of being active and in the outdoors. 

How and when did you get started in photography, and how would you describe your work?

My father was a keen family photographer, and having set up his own darkroom at home, I was introduced to photography and basic film processing from a young age. It was a fun thing to watch, but I never really got into it at that stage. Throughout my teenage years, I remember always having a camera and taking lots of snapshots of family and events. In my early twenties, I bought a Canon SLR and took a night class for a few weeks, but having two children soon after meant my attention went elsewhere. It was in October 2010 when I bought my first DSLR (a Canon 500D), that I started to pursue the art of photography once more.

I took my camera with me every time I went outside, learning everything I could through the local and national photographic societies and workshops, trying all the varied genres of photography. I was always drawn back to my love for animals and the outdoors. Birds and dogs are my favourite subjects. It is so special to capture their beauty, emotion, strength and character, including those split-second moments in time that our human eye can miss due to the speed of a bird in flight or a dog in action.

My photography in recent years has been focused on documenting the sled dog racing community in New Zealand, so more photojournalistic - but my love for birds and wildlife remains.

What are you shooting with?

I shoot with mostly Canon gear. The camera bodies I am using are the 7D MkII and 6D MkII, with the 24-70mm f2.8 and 70-200mm f2.8 lenses being my favourites, especially for the action/documentary photography I love. My Canon 100-400mm is for birds and wildlife, and I also have a Canon 50mm f1.8 and a Tamron 10-24mm.

Accessories include a Benro tripod, wireless shutter release, and a raincoat for the camera as I am out in all weathers. Torch, headlamps, and a plastic sheet are also part of my photographic gear as I spend a good amount of time on the ground in all types of weather to get the best angle.

Tell us about your photo, ‘Happy Trails’...

This photo was taken at the Snow Farm in Cardrona. I was there to photograph sled dog racing events for my book project, documenting the only snow racing events of the year, the Cardrona Stage Race and the following weekend, the Wanaka Sled Dog Racing Festival. Some of my friends from that community organised a team of ten dogs and Tony (a musher with decades of experience) took me out to feel for myself the thrill of being on the snow with these wonderful dogs.

The morning was calm and cold, with the sun was just peaking over the horizon. Sheryll, Sarah, Jon and Tony harnessed the dogs to the gang lines as I squeezed myself into the canvas bag on the sled. I got as comfortable as I could, tucked up inside the sled with the canvas cover zipped up as high as possible but still allowing my arms to be free to hold the camera at the ready - my Canon 6D MKII with 24-70mm lens. I had to use a fast shutter speed to factor in the movement of the sled and the speed of the dogs' movement.

The team was made up of Alaskan and Siberian Huskies, with the lead dog Waylon (in the red booties), a very experienced sled dog and Iditarod and Yukon 1000 veteran.

Tony kept the dogs at an easy pace. He explained it wasn’t about going as fast as possible; it was about keeping a steady pace, looking after the dogs and enjoying the time together. The peace and tranquillity of being out there with the dogs was amazing. All you hear is the sliding of the sled runners on the snow and the soft padding of the dogs' feet.

What editing did you do to this photo?

I made basic adjustments in Lightroom with colour temperature, exposure, contrast, shadows and clarity. In Photoshop, I added a little sharpening to the sled and dogs.

Is there anything you would do differently if given a second chance?

I would zoom out more to get shots that include the wider landscape and take as many photos as possible. On this trip, there were times when I just sat back to take in the moments and absorb the incredible feeling of being in this environment, which was great, but I know in doing that, I missed some prime photographic opportunities.

What else should we know about this photo?

This shot came about through my adventures working on my personal project, bringing together two great loves, photography and Siberian Huskies. The five-year adventure culminated in the publication of my book, Sled Dog Racing In New Zealand, which also includes the history of how the sport began in New Zealand.

What’s next for you?

I am now keen to get back to some bird photography and apply the skills I learned in my recent adventures to create story photo albums for mushers and their dogs. And looking further into the future there’s potential to expand into other dog sports and farm dogs.

Where can we find you online?