What’s In The Bag

What’s in the Bag

Headshot Nikki

The Camera Bag

with Edin Whitehead

Waterproof, well-padded hard case (that floats) is the best option for keeping my gear safe.

 

To be honest, most of the time, my camera gear lives in a hard case. My day job as a seabird biologist involves a lot of jumping on and off of islands in small inflatables, and a waterproof, well-padded hard case (that floats) is the best option for keeping my gear safe!

When I’m out for a proper photography mission, I use a LowePro Whistler 35L. It’s the perfect size for me and has robust waist straps which take the load off my shoulders for long days in the field. I can fit just about every item of camera gear I regularly use inside, but I mostly pack it light with just what I need for the day.

My other workhorse bag is an old (and sadly discontinued) LowePro DryRover, with a waterproof lower compartment for gear, and a spacious upper compartment for other bits and pieces. It’s getting a bit old and salt-corroded now! It’s perfect when conditions are a bit dicey (on a small boat or inflatable), but I need to access pre-assembled gear to shoot with quickly.

Cameras

As of this year, I’m transitioning to being a dual-system shooter with the mirrorless Nikon Z9 and the DSLR Nikon D500. I’ve shot with the D500 for six years, and I’m not getting rid of it! It’s an amazing body for wildlife, birds in particular, and I’ve never felt limited by its capabilities or image quality.

The Z9 is a great tool for a wildlife photographer, but I don’t need 20 frames a second or full-frame 48MP images in many circumstances. I regularly use my D500 body for biology fieldwork, as it’s a much lighter, more compact, and I have enough spare batteries to last me through at least a week without charging. If I’m shooting high-stakes bird photography (for work or fun!), it’ll be with the Z9.

I love the versatility of shooting with a full-frame body that can easily swap to a cropped sensor mode for extra ‘reach’. The autofocus technology with eye detection is amazing. I’m also exploring the ability to take high-quality videos while looking through the viewfinder, which is impossible with a DSLR. Moving to an electronic viewfinder has been an adjustment, but I can swap between the two pretty seamlessly now.

I must stress that you don’t need the latest gear to take great images. It’s nice to have but not necessary. For most of my photographic life, I’ve shot with second-hand, hand-me-down equipment, and it’s never held me back. I’ve been waiting a while for mirrorless technology to catch up with the solid reliability of DSLRs for wildlife photography, and the Z9 is finally that step change. It’ll be interesting to see how the technology develops over the next few years.

Read the full article by Edin Whitehead in our current issue.


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Lighting By Land Cruiser

Lighting By Land Cruiser

Headshot Nikki

The Obelisk

by Glen Howey

Hard and soft lighting, side lighting and backlighting… it was time to play.

 

It had been a cold, bleak sunless sunset out at the old miners' cribs on the wild stretch of 4x4 track much loved by adventurers and photographers known as the Nevis Valley. The light was dying, and with it, my enthusiasm. Often in these situations, my creative juices start to flow, I think mostly out of sheer stubbornness to accept I’ve come all this way to achieve a photographic fail. An idea fought its way into my mind's eye, and my latest series of images has grown.

I’m something of a photographic minimalist; after years of travelling as a backpacker and wanting to be light on my feet, I shoot with as little gear as possible. My location lighting kit consists of a head torch and a cell phone, but on this day, I thought I’d expand that dramatically.

About a hundred and fifty years ago, I did a two-year Advanced Diploma in photography at Wellington Polytechnic under the guidance of Tony Whincup, very much an icon of New Zealand photography. One of the papers I did was studio lighting, being totally focused on Landscape, Documentary and Travel. I must admit I struggled to muster much creative energy and did enough to fight my way to a B+ grade, knowing I’d never use these skills again. But oh, how wrong I was! Thankfully it all came flooding back as I watched the last light die in front of one of those old cribs.

Nevis Valley Crib - Side Lighting

Nikon D90, 35mm lens, @ F8, 30s, ISO200, 34mm


Nevis Valley Crib - Backlighting

Nikon D90, 35mm lens, @ F5, 30s, ISO200, 30mm


Hard and soft lighting, side lighting and backlighting… it was time to play. My faithful Land Cruiser still has the old school light bulbs, thankfully giving you a warm, rich colour temperature rather than the cold, sterile blue of the more modern LED bulbs. This allowed me to work with one of my favourite lighting combinations, warm and cold. The amber colour draws the viewer in, almost welcoming, while the cool hard blues from the fading natural light sends the viewer packing and wanting to retreat indoors. When the sunlight cracks over the horizon on a cold, bleak winter's day, that’s precisely what you get.

It's worth noting that my Land Cruiser has its own photographic history, being owned before me by two great landscape photographers and good friends, Mike Langford and Jackie Rankin. Perhaps I’m just getting melodramatic, but I love that the vehicle I get to explore New Zealand in has such a strong photographic past all of its own. It's a good karma kind of thing.

Anyway, back to this Lighting By Land Cruiser series of images I'm working on. The beauty of this method is that it opens up real possibilities when the natural light has all but abandoned me. It gives me something to continue shooting well into the night. It can save a shoot that has crumbled after a non-existent sunset and extend a great one.

Read the full article by Glen Howey in Issue 60 of NZPhotographer magazine.


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Escaping Stress Whilst Evoking Emotion

Escaping Stress Whilst Evoking Emotion

Happy Trails

Mcgregors Bay
Canon 5D MKIV, 24-70mm lens @ F11, 1/125s, ISO200, 27mm

interview with Shelly Linehan

Shelly, can you tell us a bit about you and your life?

I was brought up on a dairy farm just out of Dargaville on the west coast of the North Island. This was where I learnt the love of animals and discovered my love for the beach. I worked various jobs until I was 23, and then I started my Vet Nurse Career.

Today I live on the beautiful Whangarei Heads on the east coast with my husband and my 3-legged rescue cat Stevie. I’m very lucky to live so close to the coast, within a 15-minute drive. I spend a lot of my spare time at the beach; it’s so relaxing just to get out and take a walk.

When did your photography journey begin, and where has it led you to today?

My photography journey began when I was 16 years old, long before digital came along! I enjoyed getting out and photographing anything that interested me, including nature, landscapes, and people. When I started my Vet Nurse career, I put my camera down, and it wasn’t until many years (once I had more spare time after my studies had finished) that I picked up a camera and started taking images again.

When I began to get back into photography, I learned that film cameras were out, and digital cameras were the new thing. This was all new to me, the basic camera fundamentals were the same, but now you had to develop your images via computer software at home instead of taking your film into a photo lab and waiting to get your photos back. Joining my local camera club helped me to learn these new digital skills and meet new people.

I still work full time as a Vet Nurse in a busy mixed animal practice in Whangarei, but I now also run my Photography business part-time. I sell landscape and fine art prints, calendars, gift cards etc., at markets and from my website/social media platforms. I also shoot family portraits and have just started to get into pet portraits which I’m very excited about. I have just gone down to 4 days a week in my day job, so this will give me more time to focus on my photography business.

What are you shooting with?

I use a Canon 5D MK4, mainly the Canon 24-70mm 2.8 and the 70-200mm 2.8. I find most of my images are made with these two lenses. I also have a 16-35mm 2.8 that I sometimes use for those ‘big landscapes’. I try to keep my kit as simple as possible as I don’t like to overcomplicate things.

I use a set of Benro filters when taking landscapes to help darken down the bright sky to even out my exposures, so I don’t have to bracket. I also love to use the 6 and 10-stop filters to slow down and smooth out the water and give movement in the clouds. I use a Manfrotto tripod too that desperately needs replacing due to too much sand and saltwater!

Protors Beach
Canon 5DMKIV, 24-70mm lens @ F11, 1.6s, ISO100, 32mm

What does photography mean to you? Why do you take photos?

I find photography very relaxing and calming. I have a stressful job at times, and if I go out with my camera, it helps me forget about work and all the worries and stresses that everyday life can bring. I love to travel around our country, discovering and photographing the new and beautiful landscapes that New Zealand offers. Capturing the magic light inspires me the most to get out and take photographs.

Photography, to me, is very expressive; you have the freedom to do what you want and how you want. If you want to break all the rules, you can; no one is there to stop you. An example would be ICM (intentional camera movement), where you can be as creative and artistic as you want. When I discovered the ICM technique, it was like a light bulb moment, and my photography changed for the better.

I feel photography is an important part of our life; if it wasn’t for photography, how would we record these special scenes, moments and memories for future generations?

How would you describe your photography?

I guess I’m most known for my New Zealand landscapes; this is definitely the genre I prefer to photograph. It makes my heart sing, and I get really excited when I’m planning a trip away to a new place that I haven’t photographed before.

I find it hard to talk about my photography. It is something I need to work on. I have asked other photographers to describe my photography style, and the one word that keeps coming back to me is fine art.

This is a style that I have worked on and continue to work on to achieve. Not all of my landscape work is fine art, but I do strive to produce work that is at the fine art level in my eyes.

To me, fine art photography means that the images are taken beyond the basic or literal photographic representation of a scene; they are not just snapped randomly. It goes beyond just capturing what is in front of the camera.

I will consider factors such as lines, space, colour, depth, form, texture and most importantly, light. The images will convey a feeling and will have an artistic vision. Essentially, a fine art image to me is one that is original and evokes emotion in the viewer or makes them stop and pause for thought.

Read the full article by Shelly Linehan in Issue 59 of NZPhotographer magazine.


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An Introduction To Creative Human Photography

An Introduction To Creative Human Photography

Headshot Nikki

Headshot Nikki

by Shelley Harvey

Creative portrait photography is all about what inspires you.

 

It is your interpretation of a concept, creating a piece of work which evokes emotion and inspires a viewer to want to keep looking at it and hopefully hang it on a wall in their home.

I have been creating fine art portraiture for eight years, and all the while, my work has been an intuitive, evolutionary process. I am forever learning new techniques and finding new ideas to try. We should never stop trying to learn and move forward in our craft as trying something new, something which is challenging and perhaps uncomfortable, is never time wasted. Even if our best-laid plans fail, we will have at least learnt from the process.

When we speak of portraiture, we often think of client sessions and family photos – fine art portraiture differs, as it is a work, a creation, we do for ourselves. We create the scene, create an emotion, and turn it into art. We have full creative licence to do as we please (always with the model’s consent, of course!)

Concept & Creativity

My style varies from shooting in natural light when I’m keen to capture catchlights in the eyes to shooting against dark backgrounds, which suits my darker, grungy style of photography.

I always convert my work to black and white to see if the image becomes more powerful when the colour is stripped away. Take, for example, my image titled Scintillating Silver, where I took inspiration from my surroundings and the props I had on hand.

Prior to my workshop, I found a cool piece of metal mesh in my husband's shed. I instantly thought this could be used in an image! The mesh was pliable and didn't have too many sharp edges that would scratch the model. Once on location, the idea came together when I had Millie in make-up and dressed in a silver bodysuit - that's when the mesh was added.

I love the texture the mesh brings to the image and also the ‘why factor’. I am always looking for items or objects I can add to an image to create a different look.

Hands

When creating fine art portraiture, the original image SOC (straight out of camera) is often the foundation on which to build meaning that, although I plan the concept, some of my images from planned shoots are happy accidents. Sometimes I will use the full image; other times, I may focus on one area, as was the case in my image titled Fallen Angel, which has become all about the hands. This was not my original intention, but once I got into post-processing, I was mesmerised by the hands and the emotion they conveyed. The rest of the image suddenly became less important, hence the blurring of the rest of the subject. By using this process, the viewer is drawn to the hands, and a story begins to unfold. To me, this image signifies struggles of faith and power.

Very rarely will I delete any images from a shoot as I will go back and use pieces from different images to create a composite, and as my post-processing techniques evolve, I always have stock to pull from to process in a different way.

Preparation of the concept is imperative before I begin a shoot. There are several factors to consider, including location, natural or artificial light, props, wardrobe, hair, and makeup. Am I going for a set theme? Does this involve creating a period in time? What emotions am I trying to convey? Do I have a story in my mind that will be easy for the viewer to decipher, or do I want it left open for interpretation?

Read the full article by Shelley Harvey in Issue 58 of NZPhotographer magazine.


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Lessons In The Landscape

Lessons In The Landscape

Happy Trails

Our Land
F22, 1/20s, ISO250

with Judy Stokes

A passionate relationship with photography started when I found a style/genre of photography that moulded perfectly with my personality.

 

Intentional Camera Movement (ICM) suited my quest to find a style that was free and spontaneous. For me, ICM is a way of playing behind the camera – a way to find that joy and sense of wonder we had as kids, a way to explore the unexpected and feel a bit of magic touch our day – simply a way to have FUN while out in nature! I also love the quirky fact that the images turn out to really look more like paintings than photographs!

So how do we create these photographic images that look like paintings? I have chosen some images to tell the story of ICM creation in the landscape.

Milking A Moment

The grand masters of photography would throw up their hands in horror at this approach but I have found it works for me! When something catches my eye that I want to photograph I literally play with it with my camera and I use the viewfinder to think through the process.

Here you can see how I play - I take some “straight shots” as well as experiment with different types of camera movement shots with a variety of results.

The one I ended up with as the chosen shot of this set is called “Storm meets Sea”. The bottom three images, straight out of the camera, show how I adjust my ISO to be able to get different slow shutter speeds. The “Storm meets Sea ” image has very little post-processing, mostly removal of dust spots which is a thing you will need to watch out for with ICM images!!

Feel The Soul Of A Place

The reason I do photography is not for the results and images I end up with, but for the pleasure of the process and how I feel after I have been out with my camera. I love the way photography slows me down - makes me stop in a beautiful place and gets me to be at one with nature. I will often take the time to sit in a place and get a feeling for it before I start my camera playing.

I always shoot on my own, hand holding my camera, and don’t like to use filters therefore, forests are fabulous for ICM as they enable me to slow down my shutter speed. These two images are taken from the same spot but you can see I focused on different parts of the forest for them. In the first one, I focused on the nikau frond and in the second, the trunk of a large native tree. You can see how in these images I also played with exposure compensation. I often use exposure compensation as a “mood tool”. Again, these images have had almost no post-processing.

Read the full article by Judy Stokes in Issue 57 of NZPhotographer magazine.


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Rising Star

Rising Star

Happy Trails

Solitude
Nikon Z6 + Sigma 28mm F1.4 Art

with Tom Rae

Tom is a 17-year-old landscape and astrophotographer who captures images of the world around us from the South Island of New Zealand. Being under the night sky gives him an indescribable sense of awe. He hopes his images will inspire others to look up at the night sky and ponder their place in the universe.

 

Tom, tell us about you and how your photography journey started…

I was first introduced to a camera in 2017, where I mainly took landscape images and edited them in artistic ways. I loved the way you could pretty much create anything you could imagine. After I began my journey with a camera, photography joined with something I've always been fascinated with ever since I was a little kid - the night sky. I find that photographing it is an experience like no other, and it is what I mainly focus on in my work today.

Being in nature and under the night sky is probably my favourite thing about photography. I just love being out exploring, enjoying the world around us and thinking about our place in the universe. Experiencing the incredible view of our night sky creates a feeling that cannot be replicated.

Behind the camera, there is an intense and indescribable sense of awe, wonder, and gratitude. I think my appreciation for nature and curiosity for the night sky, combined with my love for art and creative freedom, drives my motivation. I also love to inspire people through my images by producing the best work I possibly can and showing people what is really out there past the lights of our cities.

Origins
Nikon Z6 + Sigma 28mm F1.4 Art.

What are you shooting with?

I am currently shooting with a full-frame mirrorless camera (Nikon Z6) and a number of wide-aperture prime lenses, which I use primarily for astrophotography.

When you shoot long exposure images of the night sky, you can get what’s known as star trailing when the earth rotates in space. To counteract this, I use a star tracker mounted on my tripod to keep the stars still and sharp while shooting with ultra-long exposures, allowing me to shoot longer exposures of the night sky and produce cleaner images.

How did you learn photography?

I have been self-taught ever since I first picked up a camera! There has been a lot of trial and error, but I am happy with my progress so far!

Read the full article by Tom Rae in Issue 56 of NZPhotographer magazine.


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