Monday, January 24, 2011

On Vacation

Well, not quite on vacation. I'm back in town doing some commercial shooting for the day but I can't wait to get back to our camping ground and more of this...





... and who in their right mind wouldn't?

Back later.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

A Retina-Searing Kaleidoscope of Chiffon

In my last post I said the Tautuku wedding would be a hoot and it was, so I had to share this:


I'd have to describe this wedding as tasteful. In a lime-chilli-chocolate-peppermint-honey-soy-mustard-wasabi kind of way.

15 chiffon-clad sirens in a rainbow of colours, a beach, and Elvis. I'm lucky enough to be selective about the wedding jobs I take and I'm glad I took this one. The chance to play with all that colour was a dream and an inspiration. My grateful thanks goes to Bridget and her "bitches" for letting me be a part of it all.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Wild Weddng

I'm in the lucky position of only taking on wedding work I really want to do.  Weddings can be great gigs, but there are issues, like working on your weekends and dealing with bridezillas (not that I've actually ever met any apart from the one I married).  Believe me, full-time wedding photogs earn their money.  So I'm really looking forward to heading here to shoot a wedding this weekend.

Tautuku Peninsula

Tautuku Peninsula, in the Catlins district. It's beautiful wild country where my client will be getting married at an outdoor education camp. Group photos on that wonderful beach and the nearby cliffs. Now here's the interesting bit: 15 Bridesmaids in 70's style Chiffon dresses. Talk about contrast! It's going to be a hoot.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

No Wasted Walk

Lee Stream Rock

Yesterday I was full of good intentions... striding off up a track that leads up Maungatua, camera and lenses in my bag, hoping to get some landscape pictures from the treeline, but mainly intending to get my legs in shape for the Hump Ridge Track I'm walking in a couple of months time.  I'd allowed a few hours for the exercise, but a little over five minutes in, I was confronted by this:

Lee Stream in flood. (Not to be confused with the Lee Stream that flows into the Taieri upstream of Outram Glen). In other circumstances I'd have crossed and carried on with my walk, but the rain was still falling, and while I had a watertight gear bag, I really didn't want to risk returning to a higher stream and hazardous crossing. I could jack it in and go home, or I could wander back down the track, trying to see the great subject material around me and capturing it. Four hours and a few hundred metres of bush track. I decided that would be just enough time.

OK first photo opportunity. Stream in flood? Time to pull out the Neutral Density filter and make that water dreamy-soft.


Ferns and whirlpool I was using exposures from about 4 to 10 seconds here. What I've learned with long exposures like these is that foliage can be a problem. Your rocks will be nice and sharp (assuming you've got your camera rock steady), the water will be smoothed out, but if you've any breeze at all, the foliage will be moving about and blurred in the final picture. OK if you want it, but you start to lose the effect if you haven't got plenty of good sharp stuff in frame. Unless things are really still, it's best to frame for just the rocks and water.

Then I was off down the track, getting some details of the walk: reflections in puddles, macro of leaves, bark textures... I've been into strobism for so long, I was kind of missing my flashes, but you have to be able to work with what you've got. The light was mostly overcast, but occasionally some dappled light hit the forest floor, isolating or back lighting a fern.

Hounds Tongue Backlit Silver Fern Hounds Tongue Fern

The tripod was invaluable, allowing me to get nice sharp shots in the low forest light, but if I hadn't had it with me, I'd have adapted. That's going to be my mission on the Hump Ridge Track - to help people make good pictures no matter what the circumstances, no matter what their gear. Puddles, dead leaves, flooded streams...the world is full of great subject material. We just have to learn to see it.

Dead fronds

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Over Another Hump

Welcome to 2011.  I know for certain that it's going to be a good year.  That's because I've got some challenging new projects in the pipeline that I'm pretty excited about.  Foremost in mind is my celebrity walk on the Hump Ridge Track.

Hump Ridge Boardwalk

For three days starting on March 2nd this year I'll be doing the walk and sharing all my photo expertise with those who join me. That's going to leave us with about two days, 23 hours and fifty minutes to fill, so it's a good thing that there's so much to enjoy along the way.

Percy Burn Viaduct

First, there's the spectacular scenery. You just take that as a given on New Zealand walking tracks. For instance on day two we'll descend through the coastal rain forest via the Percy Burn viaduct, a remnant of the forestry industry that once exploited the area.  More of the track's eye candy to come in a later post.

Percy Burn Viaduct

The Hump Ridge celebrity walks are much more than bush-bashing your way from scenic wonder via epic outlook to awesome vista. I've done my share of sweating up the hills and mountains with a 20kg pack, eating only what I was prepared to carry and sleeping in spartan huts, tents or rock bivouacs. This March, we'll be walking the track, but all our heavy gear will be transported to our accommodations by helicopter.  (I won't tell if you won't.)  Personally, I know I'm going to struggle with the temptation to carry more photographic gear in its place.

Port Craig International Airport Hump Ridge Helo

Those accommodations? Comfortable?   Make that very comfortable. Forget about sleeping on a thin groundsheet on top of gnarled tree roots while your companions snore like an engine test at the airbus factory (although it's hard to forget if you've ever experienced it, believe me). Think private rooms with King-size beds. And while I'm enough of a masochist purist to still enjoy a strip wash in a cold mountain stream, on this trip I'll be enjoying hot showers. Now lets talk about the food and drink.

No roughing it
 Leave your dried food and water purifying tablets at home. The Hump Ridge guided walks offer excellent food on licenced premises.  When I walked into Okaka hut last year, I expected to be greeted by the traditional aromatic mix of camp stove fuel, damp socks and insect repellent.  Instead, I was welcomed by the smell of baking brownies.  Something to drink? Great wines, cold beers, take your pick. Let me tell you there's nothing like a mulled wine as you take in the coastal and alpine views from Okaka hut and that's just what I plan to do.  In moderation of course, there'll be two more days walking to do.

But that's not all we'll be doing.  On my walk, we'll be making stunning pictures together.  Let me tell you how, in another post.  If you're interested, click your way here to find out more about the track, and make a booking.