Behind The Shot

Happy Trails

Personally, I would prefer a Nikon
Nikon D500, 200-500mm Nikon lens @ F5.6, 1/50s, ISO400, 200mm

with Carole Garside

Carole, remind us who you are and what you do!

I am a graphic designer by trade, but after being made redundant, I decided to take time out of the workforce. I still haven’t gone back! I have always owned some kind of camera from when my parents bought me a Kodak Instamatic for my tenth birthday. A legacy from an Aunt meant that I bought my first DSLR around the same time I stopped working. It was quite a steep learning curve from my previous bridge camera, but I turned it to manual mode, made myself shoot every day, and have not looked back since.

Since my feature in issue 21, just over three years ago, I have qualified with a Level 5 diploma in photography through the Southern Institute of Technology. This was a great way to learn about different genres. It covered everything from street photography, portraiture, food photography, real estate, landscape etc.

I entered the Pukekohe Creative Focus Salon last year for the first time and was really happy to receive a highly commended for one of my pieces. I also got my Licentiate through the Photography Society New Zealand in July of this year which I’m absolutely thrilled about. I am starting the Level 6 diploma next month, which I expect will push me out of my comfort zone.

How would you describe your photography?

I would describe my photography as fairly eclectic. I will give anything a try. Having said that, if I look back at my favourite shots, they tend to be nature and wildlife shots. I love photographing birds and fungi in particular.

I’m always trying to improve my landscapes as we have such beautiful scenery here in New Zealand. I have also started dabbling in composite work, whether simply changing an untidy background with a texture or doing a full-out creative composite.

What are you shooting with?

I still have my first DSLR, a Nikon D7500, but I mainly use a Nikon D500 now. I seem to have acquired quite a stable of lenses. My latest one is a Nikon 70-200mm. I regularly use my Nikon 16-80mm, 200-500mm and 105mm macro lens. I also have a Tamron 10-24mm wide angle and a Tamron 18-400mm (a good all round travel lens, but I seem to have retired it.)

My current tripod is a Peak Design carbon fibre one. I changed from a Benro one, as it’s much lighter and packs away very compactly. I also have a Benro filter system with a couple of ND filters and a hard graduated one.

Tell us about your Kakaruwai photo…

At the end of May, I was lucky enough to attend one of the New Zealand Photography Workshops, led by Richard Young to Stewart Island. This was a great opportunity to visit somewhere new and covered both landscapes and wildlife.

The highlight of this trip for me was visiting Ulva Island to see the birdlife (and my personal goal of finding my first Entoloma hochstetteri (blue fungi). This photograph is of one of the South Island Robins (Kakaruwai) we saw on the island. They were generally very inquisitive but quite difficult to shoot in the darkness of the bush. This shot was taken out of the forest on the beach.

After walking through bush and forest, we stopped on the beach for refreshment. This particular robin was hopping around on our camera equipment and rucksacks. For a minute, it actually sat on my back!

I thought this shot was quite amusing, a robin showing off his photography skills! I was having to back away, as I still had my long 200-500mm lens on the camera, and he kept getting too close. I would have liked to stay longer on the island, but time was limited due to ferry timetables.

What editing did you do to this photo?

I use both Lightroom CC and Photoshop CC for editing. As I was caught off guard, I still had the aperture set wide for the dim light in the bush. Consequently, the shot was a bit bright, especially the background.

I used the curves adjustment layer in Photoshop just to darken it a little. No cropping was needed in this bird photograph, as it was actually too close for the lens I was using at the time.

How happy are you with the shot, what would you do differently if given a second chance?

I wish the back of the camera was in focus, and I wish it was a Nikon, not a Canon! As I mentioned, it was such a surprise shot that I was still set up for shooting in the darkness of the bush. Given a chance, I’d have changed to a shorter lens as I couldn’t back far enough away from him without getting my feet wet.

What tips can you share with readers, given your time on location and the surprise opportunities?

First of all, be prepared; you just don’t know what will happen in a wildlife situation. We saw saddlebacks in the bush, but I just wasn’t quick enough to capture them.

For bird photography specifically, the best tip I can give anyone is to use back button focus. It feels strange at first but will soon become a natural habit, and you will hit the focus on more shots.

Where can we see more of your photos?