Get wet

Get wet

Experienced landscape photographers already know that enduring the elements is part and parcel of getting memorable images, but I wasn’t prepared for how wet I would get. From cruising Milford Sound in a storm, to standing ankle deep in lake-side pebbles, shielding your camera from horizontal rain while waiting for the dawn to break. Seriously, discomfort came with every great shot (well, except for the sunrise I took on the hotel balcony).

Nothing beats local knowledge

Nothing beats local knowledge

I could have plotted out an itinerary for the South Island on my own, and chased iconic shots of iconic locations, but I decided that going on a tour led by a professional photographer would be better from a practical standpoint, as well as a good opportunity to learn from somebody else.

Will Patino moved to New Zealand a few years ago and has been exploring the South Island ever since. He took us to some iconic locations, but my best shots were in places without crowds. His experience with the weather was particularly useful. On the first day, he suggested that we reverse the itinerary because the “bad” weather would bring out a side of Milford Sound that most people don’t capture. As a result, we spent a morning on a boat in a storm. It was the most exhilarating experience I have had as a photographer, and I got my favourite images of the trip on that cruise.

You can hand hold it

You can hand hold it

One way to be flexible is to ditch the tripod. It’s is essential kit for landscape photography, but the benefits of stable, sharp photos come at the expense of missed fleeting moments.

The workshop instructor, William only broke out his tripod once or twice, eschewing it for being able to quickly try different subjects and angles. He encouraged us to trust that modern cameras can be quite forgiving of hand held shots, even up to half a second or longer. It took some practice, but I was able to find good positions to brace myself for stable shots of moving water like creeks and waves on the beach.

It’s in the edit

It’s in the edit

There’s a lot of talk about getting it “right” in camera, but cameras just record light. Photons aren’t the soul of a place, and they don’t tell stories. There’s nothing wrong, and a lot right with spending some time on making a picture look its best. This photo was originally very flat, which did not match the cool damp mood of the rainforest. I spent hours tweaking the shot to convey my experience and better share it.

Be Flexible

Be Flexible

In Landscape and travel photography, you have very little control over the light. The weather is a participant in your art that you can’t direct. The only thing you can do is pick your location and moment, so when the light breaks, you stop whatever you’re doing, pick a composition and shoot.

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What I did in 2018

What I did in 2018

The new year is here, and I think it’s worth reflecting back on how my photography went in 2018. I definitely did a lot of new things, set goals and (tried to follow through on them), so let’s have a look.

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Catching up

Catching up

It’s not that I’m not shooting photos, I’ve just been publishing on other platforms. I started a Youtube channel, which is exhausting, and Instagram has been the easy filler for the slivers of free time between work and sleep. I have a big trip coming up, which seems to be a typical trigger for blog posts. This time round, I won’t be doing a photo-a-day series. Instead, I’ll bring you up to date on my vlogging efforts, and highlights from my most recent trips.

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Black and White 7 Day Challenge

Black and White 7 Day Challenge

There’s a little photography meme going around Facebook and Instagram at the moment:

Seven days, seven black and white photos of your life, no people, no explanation. Challenge someone each day.

I’m not a fan of forcibly spreading this sort of thing, so I didn’t explicitly challenge anyone, but I liked the idea of doing a daily photo to encourage myself in creating new work at least once per day. I did my best to restricting to photos that I hadn’t shared before, and always restricting to fresh edits.

The “no people” stipulation was the most challenging part of the whole thing, and I can see a few reasons for it being there. First, protect the privacy of those closest to you. Not everybody wants to be in your public photos. Secondly, it’s a creative challenge. We all define ourselves by our relationships, so it’s easy to fill our cameras of the people we surround ourselves. We force ourselves to really think about the things we see around us by excluding people from this project.

Now that it’s all over though, I feel justified in writing something about the photos I shared.

A vintage manual lens. Photography is obviously a large part of my life, and my recent discovery of vintage lenses has started an exploration of rethinking how I shoot and compose. Almost all the easy-to-get lenses are prime, challenging me to find interesting angles and compositions by actually moving around.

Sydney harbour. I’ll never stop saying how much I love my home town. I travel a lot, but Sydney is always the most beautiful and easiest place to live. Seeing the Harbour Bridge as I fly into town will always tell me I’m home..

Jacaranda blossoms. This one might be hard to tell in black and white, but I thought that would make for an interesting challenge. While not Australian natives, the purple of the jacaranda is iconic of Sydney in spring.

View from a plane. I spend several weeks every year travelling for both work and personal reasons, and I always take my camera with me. It’s always a privilege to see the world and bring back photos to share.

Cat on a blanket. In addition to being regular test subjects for my camera gear, my cats are my family. Pictured here is Argent, who passed away last March from complications to an old injury. For 13 years, she had been an integral part of my life.

Parramatta River at Rydalmere. Sydney isn’t all about the harbour. The Parramatta feeds the harbour, and I live a lot closer to its source. This photo was shot near Rydalmere ferry wharf, along a pleasant bike path that I like to use for walks.

Running path. I try to take my health and fitness seriously. I might have used a photo from the gym, but this shot from one of my regular running routes is more interesting. I had actually got caught in a sudden storm. Once it had passed, I was mesmerised by the dramatic clouds, gorgeous sunset colours (not pictured), and reflections on the wet road.

You’ll also find these shots on my Instagram and Facebook feeds. Check those out for more regular photos from me.