Behind The Shot 64

Behind The Shot

Happy Trails

Conor Macfarlane - Action Pano
Nikon D5, Nikon 16-35mm f/4.0 @ F6.3, 1/1250s, ISO250, 35mm

with Jay French

Jay, tell us about yourself and your journey with photography…

As long as I can remember, I’ve been fascinated by images, trying to document everything I experience and want to share. Since 2015 I’ve been lucky enough to make my living from this. I’m based in Christchurch and work internationally (when allowed).

I started off in editorial, and came up shooting in the mountain bike world; that’s where I got my start. However, these days I tend to shoot predominantly advertising, focusing on lifestyle, adventure and action. I work with amazing people, being part of some awesome adventures, whether that be for personal projects or campaign work.

Tell us about this action image…

This particular image was shot as a series of pre-opening imagery for a new bike park down in Wanaka that was under construction (now Bike Glendhu). The imagery was planned for the end of Spring when we’d still get the nice light, but the conditions would be more settled. We knew that the best place for the image would be at the highest point, where the views out towards Roys Peak and the lake are the best.

This image is a little special in the way it was created. It’s actually a 5x image panorama. I wanted the stacked/compressed look of shooting at 35mm, which captured the action nicely; however, it didn’t show off the amazing scenery around us. What I did as a workaround was shoot the action and the scenery as a kind of “action panorama”.

I found the frame I wanted to capture the action in, captured the climax of the action as a 3x shot burst without moving the camera at all, then constructed the scene around where the action had happened, a photo up and left, down and left, down and right, and lastly up and right. Without changing any of the settings and making sure each frame overlapped the other by approx 25%. Later I took this into Lightroom, found the key action frame from the burst and the 4x frames that captured the scenery and used the ‘create panorama’ function to create what you see here.

What were you shooting with?

I’ve always shot with Nikon gear. This image specifically was shot with the Nikon D5 and a second-hand 16-35mm f/4.0 lens, strangely enough. At the time, I was running Marumi Lens Protect filters, and a Peak Design strap with Peak Design Anchors and Anchor Links. 

What was happening behind the camera?

The shot was taken at 6:38 am, just as the sun cleared the peaks. It took us the best part of an hour to get up to this point at the time, as we needed some time for the talent to warm up and get a few runs in.

Other than me rushing everyone around to get it done, it was pretty calm behind the camera. With sunrise shoots, the sun isn’t going to wait for you to get prepared and into position, so you need to be on it with your crew and be ready to go when the time arises.

Did you have a fixed idea of what you wanted to achieve ahead of time?

We knew the location, the backdrop and the view. We had a solid idea of the action through our recce and prep in the days prior. The idea to shoot the super wide multi-image panorama only came out of necessity during the shoot.

What planning or preparation did you undertake for this image?

About a month before the shoot, there was a recce day of the area, where I could check out all potential viewpoints and spots to create the image. I wandered around with my PhotoPills sun app and TPE 3D to work out where the sun would be coming up on the day and when. This helped me plan the look of the shot before the day.

The day before the shoot, one of the athletes, Conor Macfarlane and trail builder Tom Hey went up to the spot (where it happened to be snowing, unexpectedly). We built a small kicker to give the riders something to jump and cleared a landing for them, then it was an early night before a very early start.

What does this image mean to you?

This shot has lived in my portfolio for a while. I genuinely enjoy the look achieved by shooting the panorama, giving the more compressed look to a wider frame. I think it would make a nice landscape shot; however, the action helps give it something extra. The action isn’t necessarily the best that the rider Conor and I have ever shot, but given the small feature we were shooting, it’s decent.

What editing did you do?

There’s not as much editing in this one as I thought there would be. I lined up the overlaps well, and everything came together pretty nicely in Lightroom. Then I did my basic adjustments and got the colours to where I liked them. That’s pretty much it; this image never even went to Photoshop.

What would you do differently if taking this shot again?

I’d start with a bigger jump to get the rider a little higher in the frame and allow more time in the air to offer us a bigger variety of tricks. I love the outlook from this angle, so I might look at a different trick that has a more aesthetic side profile. I would probably shoot it even more compressed with something that gave me less distortion, such as a 70-200mm (as I feel the horizon and lake aren’t properly straight in this image, which could probably still be corrected in Photoshop anyway if it meant that much to me).

What tips can you share with readers for achieving a similar action shot?

Practice shooting handheld panoramas by eye, using guidelines in your viewfinder and lining them up with background features. The correct amount of overlap and keeping the camera straight help when you’re assembling the panorama.

Make sure that the focus point doesn’t change at any stage after the key action; otherwise, you can end up with one of the background frames being in focus - meaning you can’t stitch them together (and it would look weird), so you’d need another go. Also, I find that removing as much lens distortion and vignetting as possible before creating the panorama can help your chances of a better outcome.

Obviously, being at a super scenic location where you’ve got permission to shoot, with a jump you’ve built prior, at sunrise on a beautiful day, with a pro rider is helpful as well!

What else should we know about you, this photo, or your photography in general?

This photo still fits my style well, I tend to describe my look as dark, bold and dramatic. I find myself gravitating to silhouettes often. The content of the image is still relevant to what I like to shoot as well. Over the last few years, I’ve created a couple of projects together with the rider pictured here, which you can view at 


Jay is a global photographer who calls New Zealand home, creating campaigns and imagery for a host of prominent brands such as Nikon, Red Bull, Macpac, Montane, Tourism New Zealand, and many more. Jay’s dramatic style has led him to be a Red Bull Illume grand finalist and a NZ Geographic Photographer of the year finalist on multiple occasions, amongst other achievements. He’s a big fan of coffee, dark beer and gets excited by sunsets. When he’s not at work, and sometimes when he is, he can be found in the mountains, running, biking, hiking or travelling with his wife, Nicola.

Behind The Shot 63

Behind The Shot

Happy Trails

Lake Moke
Nikon D850, Nikkor 14-24mm lens
x30 10s exposures for the sky @ F2.8, 10s, ISO6400, 16mm
x1 exposure for landscape @ F2.8, 180s, ISO800, 16mm

with Simon Williams

Simon, what’s your background in photography?

I feel like there has always been a camera somewhere in my life. Gaining my BSc (Hons) in Physics with Astrophysics taught me about the technicalities of cameras, lenses and light. In the mid-’90s, I started making skateboard movies which I digitized and edited electronically, providing the gateway into the quickly emerging digital post-production world.

After finishing my Masters, I worked in the corporate front-end web design space during the dotcom boom, strengthening and extending my knowledge and experience using a variety of Adobe Suite Products. Finally, not so long after arriving in Aotearoa in the mid-2000s, I invested in a DSLR replacing the faithful 3MP point-and-shoot.

That’s when photography became forefront and centre in my life. I used it to assist my work within Education for Sustainability - a mix of commercial, event and portraiture work. Living in Wānaka, I inevitably photographed the landscape and continued my passion for sports photography within the mountain bike community.

Around 8 years ago, I finally pointed my camera toward the night sky, where I feel almost everything I’d achieved up until that point came together in the most beautiful way.

Tell us about this Astro photo…

It was the night of April Fools, 2022. There was a new moon, and there was promising activity on the space weather satellite readings, so I spent the evening exploring spots facing the South not so far from home (I’m a massive fan of making Astro photography as easy as possible!).

I’d worn the right clothes and not forgotten my merino socks on this night, and because I moved between a few different places, I could warm up in the car a few times. I had food and drink with me and made sure I didn't stay anywhere too long to keep my stoke high and to ensure I had feeling in my fingers and toes.

Moke Lake was the last destination and capture of the evening. The spots I’d visited previously that evening had been quieter than I expected; in fact, I hadn’t encountered anyone else all evening, which made me think that perhaps the lake would be nice and quiet too.

There wasn’t much planning for this shot; more a case of turning up and the conditions providing the goods. I had my Nikon D850 with a Nikkor 14-24 f/2.8. mounted onto a fairly hefty Manfrotto tripod with a 3D ball head and a Phottix intervalometer / wireless remote to take the shots allowing my hand to stay in my pockets. The composition almost took care of itself, which put the focus on the technical side of the capture.

I love working with what I’m offered at a particular time and place. Straight away, it was the mist and the strong Auroral glow that captured my attention, both quite subtle to the naked eye and certainly moving more slowly than the stars in the sky.

I’ve been spending more time stacking astro images this season, so I really wanted to capture multiple frames of the sky as well as some long exposures for the landscape, being ever mindful of the light from a solitary camper van left on overnight, illuminating the lake to the left.

The process of shooting at night for me is one of meditation. I take many different exposures of the same scene, collecting light in different ways to give me as many options in post as possible. So behind the camera is very still and focused.

However, there was still a reasonable amount of yawning, wiggling of toes and crossing of fingers that a car didn’t come down the road, that the mist stayed just out of the way, and that my lens didn’t fog up. Other than that, it was a very serene end to a fulfilling evening. I could hear other people in the mist further around the lake having a good old laugh at being engulfed in freezing fog.

What does this image mean to you?

I’ve listened to one of our kaumātua tell kõrero about our place a few times now. He often tells of Hinepūkohurangi (the mist maiden), and on this evening, I felt like I had a ringside seat to the action as she moved down the mountainside and across the lake, engulfing the group of people further along the shore.

It felt mysterious and intriguing at the time, almost unbelievable, and as I’ve sat working this piece together, it keeps on drawing me in and soothing my thoughts.

What post-processing did you do?

A fair bit for this one. I’ve been learning how to use SiriL to stack images to get the best quality for the stars. It’s a slow process, which I’m enjoying, and the results are pleasantly surprising. After a fair amount of tinkering, I exported a TIFF from there into Photoshop.

I used Lightroom to process the longer exposure RAW images of the landscape and sky, which I also exported into Photoshop so I could begin to combine all the elements together with various layers and adjustments.

Once I was happy, I saved it as a PSD and then gave it a final tweak with Lightroom. When it looked good on screen, I soft-proofed it for Ilford Smooth Pearl - my current favourite paper to print Astro images onto, made slight adjustments and then printed it.

If I get the same feeling when it’s in my hand as what I see on my screen, I know the image is finished.

What would you do differently if retaking this shot?

I’d tilt the camera 30 degrees upwards and go through the whole process again so I could extend the field of view to include more of the sky. I would also log what I did during post, especially whilst stacking - this needs to become more scientific within my practice.

Can you share some Astro photography tips with us?

Practice and experiment as much as possible.

At night in low light, you really do need to slow down. It helps me to think of the composition in my head, imagining the field of view of my lens with my mind, and then trust I’ve got it right. Sure, do a couple of quick checks on the screen, but otherwise, spend time getting the exposures right, all the while connecting further to what’s around you.

Ask yourself; Where is the light coming from? How fast is it moving? What exposures do you need to capture what’s around you? Change shutter speeds, ISO and sometimes even aperture if there’s a strong source of light, as well as considering if you can introduce any light yourself to help.

Explore places near where you live, and don’t discount places you see photographs from often, there’s always a different way to view the familiar, and no one place ever looks exactly the same at different times. In my case, I wanted to get my take on the classic Moke Lake Aurora photograph. If you’re visiting new places, try to go during daylight hours to check your compositions. It's always easier when the lights are on, and use tools such as Photopills and Stellarium to see what you’ll see in the night sky when you plan to return.

Don’t forget your merino socks, and if you know or suspect others are out there photographing, be as considerate as you can with the light you emit and the noise you make.


Simon owns and operates AuthenticAs with his partner Emma in Queenstown. AuthenticAs create unique adventures for visitors to Queenstown, day and night. When he’s not out and about with his camera or clients, you’ll find Si at home, often making things for their garden, slowing down, enjoying family time, or out enjoying some of the world-class mountain biking trails on his doorstep.

Behind The Shot 62

Behind The Shot

Happy Trails

Mt. Erebus
Nikon D3, Nikon 70-300mm zoom lens @ F8, 1/2000s, 85mm

with Grant Sheehan

Grant, tell us about yourself and your journey with photography…

I was given my first camera aged 11, a Kodak Brownie 127. I think it was made of Bakelite. It had no settings at all, but it worked well if you used it in bright sunlight. It took 120 negative film. I accidentally discovered you could take double exposures simply by not winding the film on, and I had lots of fun taking a lot of multiple exposures. My parents weren’t very impressed with the results; however, I think it was this that helped spark my lifelong fascination with photography.

Ten years later, I became a survey draughtsman, working in the area of photogrammetry. Part of my job, for the forestry company I worked for, was to overfly their forest areas and take photographs for mapping.

The aerial photography company we used had a special twin aircraft engines aircraft with a large camera built into the floor. I remember the camera operator had been a reconnaissance photographer in World War II, flown hazardous missions in De Havilland Mosquitoes, and had many stories to tell. The camera we used shot very high-resolution 10 x 8“ negatives. Two prints from each negative were made, and it was my job, using a stereoscope and other devices, to make up maps and measure growth rates etc.

After a while, I grew tired of working in an office, resigned, bought a Pentax Spotmatic camera, which was considered an excellent camera at that time and took off overseas. It was while travelling, in the 80s, that l decided l wanted to do full-time photography, and I returned to New Zealand to set up my photography business.

Much of my work back then was for magazines, as well as for exhibitions of personal work. In the mid-90s, I started my publishing company Phantom House Books, which I run alongside my photography business, publishing a variety of books which include my own work and the work of other photographers and writers.

How would you describe your photography?

Despite decades of being a working photographer, the novelty hasn’t worn off. Photography still excites me as it did when I first started out. Rather than specialise, I have wandered all over the photographic landscape, as multiple subjects interest me. These include work in architecture and architectural heritage, landscapes, cafés and food, astrophotography, drone photography, documentary photography, experimental digital Al work and travel photography.

I am also fascinated by the ongoing technological advances in photography, from the fast-moving development of smartphones incorporating artificial intelligence to a new generation of artificially intelligent neural network-based editing programs.

As photographers, we are all on an amazing journey as to what is achievable tech-wise. ln a way, I suppose, photography has always been as much about technology as any other aspect.

What gear are you shooting with?

I have several systems, but the camera I use the most is a Nikon D850, with a Nikon 14-24mm 2.8 zoom. Other lenses include a 100-400mm Tamron, Tamron 150-600mm G2, Nikon 20mm 1.8, and Nikon 60mm macro. I also have two drones, a modified Phantom 4 pro and a DJI Mini 3 pro (which is surprisingly useful). My walk-around camera is a Nikon Z FC with a 24mm pancake lens.

Tell us about this photo…

I was invited to join a group of 40 or so people planning to hire a small Russian icebreaker to sail to the Ross Dependency in Antarctica. This meant that, to some degree, we could control our own schedule and itinerary and explore the subantarctic Auckland Islands on the way. For me, the timing was ideal as I was working on a New Zealand Landscape book, and partaking in the adventure meant I could include the Auckland Islands and New Zealand's Antarctic territories. Although the cost was high, it seemed the opportunity of a lifetime, so I sacrificed my motor vehicle and, three months later, arrived in Antarctica.

Like a percentage of landscape photographs, this image was serendipitous. As our small ship moved along Antarctica’s McMurdo Sound, approaching Scott Base, we encountered big patches of fast ice and were unable to proceed further. Some of us got off the ship to walk around on the ice. The weather was sunny, the temperature around -5℃. In the distance was Mount Erebus looking impressive, with a few clouds overhead. As we stopped to take some shots, seven adult Emperor penguins suddenly rocketed out of the water nearby, sliding along on their bellies before gliding to a stop, then, in an ungainly manner, stood up and waddled over to us, presenting an excellent photo opportunity.

After five or so minutes of hanging out with humans, they grew bored and dived back into the sea. Less than a minute later, however, they were back with another high-speed leap onto the ice. It turned out there was good reason. Just seconds later, an enormous black fin cruised past the ice edge. The penguins stayed on the ice for a while, waiting for the orca to lose interest, and then plunged back into the sea.

When I turned my attention back to Mount Erebus, I saw new layers of high cloud had formed at different heights, and a big puff of ash had appeared, presenting me with a fantastic spectacle, enhanced by the dust-free atmospheric conditions.
It was all about getting the shot while the view was clear and interesting before we were called back to the ship. The weather was very changeable, so speed was of the essence. And, of course, it was super cold, so there was no time really to linger. I took various focal lengths, but 85mm was the one I liked the most.

Of course, Mount Erebus has a special significance to many New Zealanders, being the site of our worst air disaster. It is also the southernmost volcano on our planet.

This photo first featured in my book ‘New Zealand Landscapes - Northland to Antarctica and reappears in my new book titled ‘In memory of travel’ which is about my experiences as a travel photographer and about the role that travel plays in our memory and our perspective. It’s also about the future of travel in the context of the changes we are now facing - from pandemic to climatic.

What editing did you do to the shot?

Very little editing was required, the usual raw file processing, a little burning here and there and a touch of colour correction. My aim, generally with landscape work, is to capture an image as it appears and avoid any sign of processing that interferes with the natural narrative of the image. It’s very easy to accidentally over-process landscape images with the tools available today.

What tips can you share with readers for achieving a similar shot?

‘Image vigilance’ is the key to landscape photography, it is easy to relax or focus on a single subject, but light, clouds and atmospheric conditions often transform from moment to moment. If you see a great shot, grab it straight away, so you at least have the image on your memory card. Then take the time to expand on the image. Look for other elements, such as interesting foregrounds, alternate compositions, and so on. Also, it’s a good idea to keep a full 360 lookout - good stuff can happen behind you.

What else should we know?

As photographers, most of us use our cameras to reflect what we see, feel and want to say. My book In memory of travel started as a memoir of my photographic travel experiences but morphed into a much broader work, a look at how we have travelled in the past and how we will likely travel in future.

Right now, there is a window where the opportunity to travel without great difficulty and expense is still there. But sooner or later, this window will narrow or, in some places, close altogether as the climate crisis begins to bite more and more.

Where can we see more of your photos?

Behind The Shot 61

Behind The Shot

Happy Trails

Canon 6D, Canon 24-105mm lens @ F4, 1/60s, ISO 800, 66mm

with Dianne Whitehead

Tell us about yourself and your journey into photography so far…

I have always loved taking photos, but it was not until I got my first DSLR (about 10 years ago) that I realized photography was much more than just recording events. I have a cousin who is also keen on getting out with her camera, and we did a photography beginners course together. I found it exciting but, at the same time, rather daunting as there seemed to be so much to learn.

Then I began a 365 project, putting an image up every day on the 365 Project website for a year… nine years later and I’m still participating! I find it makes me look for things to photograph each day and serves as a photographic diary too. I have seen a huge improvement in my photography over this time. I am also a member of The Waiuku Camera Club and enjoy the company and challenge of taking images for their competitions.

How would you describe your photography? Is there a genre you’re most passionate about?

For me, photography is a form of recreation that brings me peace and puts the world into perspective. I find myself drawn to the landscape and nature genres as these take me to places where I can slow down, observe, wait for the light and give myself some space in a busy world.

I don’t really have a specific style, except to say that I prefer ‘real’ looking images and don’t spend a lot of time on the computer editing and manipulating my photos.

What are you shooting with?

I generally shoot with a Canon 6D. To go with that, I have a 70-200mm, 100mm, and a wide-angle lens (which I admit to not using as often as I thought I would). I also have a Manfrotto 190 tripod.

I also shoot with a Sony alpha 6000, which is a nice light option. I am seldom without a camera, so I carry a Lumix TZ220 in my handbag, and of course, my phone is never far away either.

Tell us about your photo

For a long time, I have wanted to try to get a nice silhouette image of someone's face and decided a child's face would look nicest.

It is always nice to try something different, so when my 22-month-old grandson was staying at the end of August, and we had a lovely sunrise, I tried a silhouette shot, and this is the result.

Rudy had just woken up, so I quickly gathered him up and stood him outside against the gorgeous sunrise sky. He was still somewhat sleepy and stood looking at the cows over the fence, so stood nicely and didn’t move. I love the messy wispy hair and especially the bit sticking out at the back; this photo was taken before he’d had his first haircut making it a great image to look back on when he’s older, and his hair is not so wispy. His cute wee face looked so nice against the colours, and to me, this image represents the innocence of childhood.

His parents were delighted with this photo, and it made a nice framed print to give to them. My daughter has shown it to friends with children of a similar age, and now they all want one!

What was happening behind the camera?

We live in a rural setting and have wide views to the east, which means we see some fabulous sunrises. The sunrise on this particular morning was beautiful and so suitable for a silhouette image. The cows over the fence were being nosy and served as a great distraction for my cute wee subject, meaning he stood nicely. I had to stand him on the outside table to get a better angle to remove trees and buildings, which would have made the image too busy.

All photographers realise how quickly the colour can change at sunrise and sunset, so there was a bit of urgency to take the image.

I used Av for this shot so I could get the photo without any hesitation. I had the ISO at 800 because I knew my subject wasn't likely to stand still for long and that the colours wouldn’t last either - another couple of minutes and the image would have been very bland.

What editing did you do to this photo?

Very little editing was done to this image. I just tweaked the colours and contrast a little in Photoshop Elements. Taking the image is the fun part of photography, not spending ages on the computer; however, learning Photoshop properly is one of my next learning goals!

What tips can you share with readers for achieving a similar silhouette portrait?

I think it is important to keep silhouette images simple and uncluttered whilst capturing strong colours. Composition is important in silhouettes too, so that the image looks balanced.

A good strong silhouette image needs to be taken with the subject between the photographer and the light. Focus on the edge of the subject, where it is against the light because the camera will have difficulty focussing on the dark subject.

On a final note, the winter months are good times for sunrise silhouette images, as you don't have to get out of your cosy bed so early!

What else should we know about you, this photo, or your photography in general?

I continue to learn about photography, reading lots and looking at videos for inspiration. We have a camper van, and photography is a great hobby while my husband is happily fishing. Taking photos makes me slow down and appreciate all the wonderful things around me.

Behind The Shot 60

Behind The Shot

Happy Trails

Faking It
Nikon D500, Tamron 18-400mm lens @ F11, 1/100s, ISO5600, 35mm

with Suzanne Renner

Suzanne, tell us about yourself and your journey with photography…

I became interested in taking photos back in my 20s, in the 1970s, when I felt able to afford the costs of a good camera and printing. I purchased an Olympus OM-1 but never learned how to get off automatic settings.

The loss of my Olympus during an international holiday led me to buy my first digital camera, a Nikon Coolpix 4300 (4MP). I became frustrated with the shutter lag and purchased a Nikon D80 in 2008, intending to become more serious about using more varied functions. Alas, again, I didn’t get beyond the programme settings.

The sudden death of my partner and retirement from lecturing at the University of Otago College of Education in 2017-2018 prompted a renewed interest in photography as a means of occupying my mind and getting me out of the house. I joined the Dunedin Photography Society (DPS) and bought a Panasonic TZ220 for use when I went traveling.

In my enthusiasm, I began borrowing and buying photography books and magazines from the city library and charity shops. From learning more about camera techniques and ideas for developing my own photography skills, I soon realised that I wanted to be more sophisticated in my photo-taking abilities. After some research, I bought a Nikon D500 and Tamron 18-400mm lens, and this pairing has become my most frequently-used equipment.

What do you most enjoy capturing?

I enjoy photography because of the similarities to my dance background, in which technique, creativity, self-expression and visual representation are strong elements. It enables me to combine my practical nature and desire to create something that I find personally pleasing.

As I am still trying to get technically proficient at using the camera, I photograph anything that catches my eye at the time - whether it be an architectural feature, reflections, family candids, or street happenings. I like exploring how to record an object, scene, or moment in different ways and produce photos that have some artistic value.

Tell us about your photo titled ‘Faking It’...

I used my Nikon D500 with the Tamron 18-400mm lens, a Manfrotto tripod, and a Hahnel Captur Remote Control and Flash Trigger for this photo. No flash was used; I relied on light from a side window.

The photo was taken during an online photo marathon challenge at DPS. In the event, participants were given a photography task whereby they were to take a photo(s) related to a given theme, process the chosen photo(s) and email it to the event coordinator - all within an hour. A new theme was then given. The event took place over four hours, i.e. four themes, and the coordinator showed the collected images at the end so that we could see each other’s interpretations of each theme. The theme for this particular photo was Faking It.

Deciding how to represent the given theme within the time limit and using your imagination and resources in your immediate vicinity can create some anxiety. Fortunately, I remembered that there was some dress-up gear that my partner sometimes used when presenting at conferences or parties. Once dressed, I set up my camera on a tripod in the bathroom, the only place in my house with some clear wall space for the background. I attached the remote shutter release and used a plant on the toilet seat to gauge focus distance. I took several shots of myself in costume (sitting on the toilet seat!), staring straight at the camera and with some small shifts of my upper torso forward or back to ensure that I had some images that were clearly in focus. I downloaded the photos onto my computer and processed the chosen photo in Affinity.

I have taken photographs of flowers in my bathroom on several occasions because of the light and ability to use the white toilet (lid and tank) and the blue wall behind it as backgrounds. Taking photos of myself in that space, however, felt odd. Not only did the room feel small and confined, but the idea of sitting on the toilet was not how I ever imagined posing for the camera!

What editing did you do in Affinity?

In the Affinity Develop Persona, I moved the black point slider slightly to lower the clipped red tones and reduced the noise in the blue background. In the Photo Persona, I cropped the photo on both sides to eliminate the edge of the shower and some toiletries on the bath.

After sharpening with High Pass, I brightened the photo, added some cyan saturation and slightly increased the white level. Out of vanity, I also smoothed some of the wrinkles in my face and hand using the in-painting tool.

How happy are you with the photo?

I am happy with the image I created on this occasion to represent the theme. The expressionless face, the silly hat and glasses, the oversized jacket and the placement of my hands help to project some mystery about the character. I am disappointed that the wig is bunched on the left side, but it does help to reinforce the idea of Faking It.

Were I to do this photo again with more time, I would check and adjust my exposure settings to improve resolution quality. The high ISO illustrates my tendency to rush picture-taking when time is an issue. I might experiment more with body positions and lighting, but I’m not sure how I would deal with the reflection in the glasses. Converting the photo into black and white could help to make the character more enigmatic.

What else should we know about you and your photography?

Until recently, a lack of confidence has meant that I seldom posted my photographs online for viewing by an audience wider than the photographic club, my family, and Facebook friends.

However, the publication of my photographs in the Readers’ Submissions section of this magazine has given me the encouragement I needed to sign up to the Flickr website, allowing a wider audience to see my work.

Where can we find you online?

Behind The Shot 59

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?