Reflecting on Reflections

Reflecting on Reflections

Headshot Nikki

by Fairlie Atkinson

As we move into the second month of the year, we start to think about putting those photographic goals we made on January 1st into practice. Lots of people sign up for photo challenges or make a list of weekly or monthly techniques they want to try out, reflections being a good challenge for many.

So, where do you start with reflection photography? First and foremost, when done well, a photograph of a reflection projects the symmetry around us. The easiest place to start to explore this is in nature; puddles, in particular, make a great starting point. A while ago, I discovered a little-known Instagram account called Wellington Puddles

by Frank Hopfler

by Frank Hopfler

While it only has a few posts, the photographer has taken some truly wonderful images of cityscape reflections in puddles. In each image, the photographer changes the perspective by placing themselves at the height of the puddle. By lying down and shooting over the top of the puddle, we can see no difference between the reflection and the view until we see the edges of the water. The real skill here is to capture both the scene and the reflection without blur, ripple, or distraction in the reflection. A single focal point will not achieve this, so ensure your camera is set to multiple focal points, allowing you to automate the focal points or move them manually as needed.

Moving on from puddles, large bodies of water are great, and Bob Zurr has done a fantastic job of capturing reflections in his landscapes.

Read the full article by Fairlie Atkinson in Issue 64 of NZPhotographer magazine.

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Making an Impact

Making an Impact

Headshot Nikki

by Richard Young

When creating a photograph, do you ever take a moment to consider its level of impact? Such a concern may not be at the forefront of your mind, but it’s crucial to your workflow, both during capture and post-production.

Defining your image’s intended impact will guide many choices - from composing to knowing when processing is complete. High-impact images can be very powerful: they make a statement, grab our attention, and compel the viewer to engage. Low-impact images may not inspire the same immediate excitement, but their subtlety can be very beautiful, drawing the viewer in for a closer, more extended look. The level of impact you want to build in your work is a personal choice, another means of self-expression.

We can assess and adjust our images both in terms of global impact and local impact.

Global Impact

Global impact refers to how strongly the image impacts viewers as a whole - is it bold or subtle? The overall impact affects how we first connect with the photograph. How quickly does it grab us, and how long does it hold our attention? We can heighten our impact through the use of bold compositions, vivid colours, deep contrast, and extreme tonal ranges to create images that capture attention from a distance and move viewers in a very powerful way.

However, successful photographs do not always need to shout out to the viewer. A subtle, low-impact image might not arrest our gaze, but this can allow a deeper connection to emerge: lower-impact images encourage our eyes to flow more freely within the frame.

The lesson here is that impact, like all other photographic choices, must be applied creatively and in moderation. If your high-impact images grab but fail to hold the viewer’s attention, they will have little lasting effect.

Increasing global impact can get your work noticed, but be careful not to rely too heavily on that first double-take. Likewise, if an image does not deliver enough impact, it may be perceived as bland and dismissed without any engagement at all.

 The level of impact you seek in your images will likely become a cornerstone of your style, guided by the vision you wish to express. Do you want your work to shout or whisper? Does it present like a heavy rock concert or a gentle piano concerto?

Like any other element of style, our use of impact can unite our work; a bold image would likely not sit well with 11 very subtle photographs when viewed together as a collection. The level of impact we seek will also influence many other aspects of our work, from the subjects we shoot to the way we process.

Global impact in the field

While shooting in the field, we can create impact through the use of bold subject matter and dynamic movement. The light we shoot in, both quality of weather and time of day, plays a part in this: a vivid coastal sunset delivers a vastly different impact than the soft, diffused light of a misty forest. Our composition (placement and balance of elements within the frame) also contributes to impact. Have we given heavy visual weight to part of the scene, such as a bold foreground subject?

Have we composed with dramatic angles or gentle transitions? Our intent should be clear before capturing a photograph. The subject, light, and composition of our images do not have to be the product of chance - we can tailor the location, time of day, and many other factors to our intent.

These two photographs were taken at one of my favourite beaches in Abel Tasman National Park, a place I have visited many times, returning with very different images from each trip. The first was captured in 2018 in a rushed manner while focused on helping a client who had been drawn to the bold subject.

I like the image, but something about it never sat quite right with me. It took me some time to realise it was because of the impact: shooting with an ultra-wide angle lens and working very close to the rock had created a high-impact image that didn’t fit my style and vision.

The second image was taken a year later, and it creates a very different feeling - a feeling much more strongly aligned with how I wish to express this landscape. Without the dominant foreground rock, the photograph is not so bold, which frees the eye to move around the image and explore it more deeply.

The lighting in the second photograph is also a little more subtle, and the sky does not hold the same drama as the first. My preference for the second image (as an expression of my style and vision) doesn’t make it “better” than the first; some may prefer the first photograph, but like any other choice in photography, it is a case of what you wish to express.

Read the full article by Richard Young in Issue 63 of NZPhotographer magazine.

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Turning a Passion for Photography into a Profession that Captures People’s Hearts

Turning a Passion into a Profession
that Captures People’s Hearts

Headshot Nikki

by Parmeet Sahni

“Time flies but memories stay — these are the words I live by” - Parmeet Sahni.


When I migrated to New Zealand from India many years ago, I had to leave behind a large collection of photo albums and compromise on many beautiful memories of my family. This experience single-handedly made me realise the importance of capturing moments in photos and has led me to create my own photographic company specialising in newborn, maternity, and family portrait photography.

While living in New Zealand, I bought my first DSLR camera - a Canon 60D, purely to take photos of my daughters and continue to capture their childhood with the epic Tamron 24-70 lens. After posting some of these online in 2013, I received a request from a friend to do a photoshoot of their children. This is when I realised how much I loved being behind the camera, portrait photography soon became more than just photography; it became my passion.

Nature and landscape photography has never been of interest to me as I loved capturing emotions - raw emotions that are hard to express but easy to capture. A smiling baby, a loving mom, a naughty child or a respectful grandparent, I love to capture the bond and compassion in people. An event with all the festivities, smiling faces, people dancing and having fun, this all makes me happy, and this is what I love to capture - freezing these moments and creating beautiful memories for a lifetime.

At this point in my journey, I was working five days a week and combined with family life, it was challenging to fit a full-time photography course into my schedule, so I did a crash course on flash photography instead. I also knew I wanted to do newborn baby photoshoots so I took a course specifically on that topic. Dressing the baby, placing them on the bed, using props, trying different angles, and adjusting to the baby's mood in order to get that perfect shot were the main areas of focus in the course. Despite my experience as a mother, I wanted to be fully trained before doing any newborn sessions, mainly because it's a huge responsibility to carry out a smooth photoshoot for a fragile little life. And for anyone who wants to pursue newborn photography - Please be fully trained before you take a newborn in your hands for photography.

I kept on learning. The famous saying, “Where there is a will, there is a way,” rang true as it was my willingness and passion which kept me on the roll. I took weekend crash courses every month, watched YouTube videos, kept on practising with my camera, and left no stone unturned to fulfill my dream of becoming a trained photographer.

Once I felt that I was prepared, I started doing complimentary photo shoots for friends and acquaintances after work or on weekends to build my portfolio. I didn’t have a studio space, so I started out as a mobile photographer, either visiting their home or doing outdoor photoshoots at the beach or park. This gave me a boost in confidence, and as word of mouth spread, I started getting queries for more and more photoshoots. Slowly I became increasingly interested in capturing people of all ages, cultures, and backgrounds, and as my work started to gain more traction, I began to invest in better equipment and started creating a collection of props and gowns. My portfolio continued to grow, and so did my sense of accomplishment - I felt like I was finally doing what I was always meant to do… My passion had started slowly turning into a profession.

The Soulful Memories Ltd company was established in 2016 and I left my full time job in 2019. It was a tough decision to make as the risk of losing my income and relying on my passion to sustain us was huge but I felt I had to follow my gut as it was becoming increasingly difficult to balance my professional career, my family, and my photography business. I did think that I might fail, but then I wondered what if I succeded and that led me to go ahead and live my passion. Although I was the face of the company, without my husband’s management of our finances and the immense organisational help from my tech-savvy daughters, none of what I have achieved today would’ve been possible without their help and everlasting support along with the blessings of loving friends and of course, the love and support of my clients.

Read the full article by Parmeet Sahni in Issue 62 of NZPhotographer magazine.

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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.


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 Issue 61 of NZPhotographer magazine.

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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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