Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Road Trip!

Cardrona Valley Road

I love the little opportunities road trips bring. Having enjoyed the Warbirds over Wanaka event over Easter, I hit the road with the team from Destination Content for a mixed video and stills shoot. Our client was New Zealand Venison and the job involved visiting and shooting on some farms in the Wanaka district.

James and Holly                  _MG_6327.jpg

First was Criffel Station, owned by Gerry Bell. It's in a beautiful spot just over the road from Wanaka airport and the hill paddocks have a great view of the Wanaka basin.

NZ falcon

Driving up to one of these paddocks, I spotted a New Zealand falcon sitting out in the rain. It's a bird I've been wanting a decent shot of for ages, so hopped out of the vehicle, shot, stepped forward, shot, stepped forward, until I was right on top of it for a fairly decent portrait. Bonus!

NZ Falcon                  NZ Falcon

The low light meant I was close to wide open at 400mm on the Canon 7D, so the pics aren't as super sharp as I'd like, but I'll take 'em.

NZ Falcon

After Criffel station we moved on to Minaret station near the head of lake Wanaka. The station has no road access, so one of the owners, Jonathan Wallis was good enough to fetch us in his boat. We got some good footage of antlered stags running around with hinds in the paddocks there. Frame grab from the video below.


I also managed to snap some shots of our Production Assistant Holly in the afternoon light. Next time I need a female model I know who to ask. The camera loves her.

Holly at Minaret Station

Holly at Minaret Station

Next day we headed up the Cardrona valley road over to Queenstown to get a bit more variety in our farmed deer shots. Central Otago is stunning in Autumn and there's no better place to see that than the Cardrona valley.

Cardrona Valley

Along the way, my Destination Content co-director and CEO James Hacon stopped to get a picture of the monster truck he'd driven over Easter. James is an off-road driving fan. He says as soon as Destination Content has the budget for vehicles, we're going to get some Landrover Defenders. I'd actually be tempted to get the big bus. Great off-road trip vehicle for shoots.

James and the School Bully                         James forages

We also stopped to pick fruit from some roadside apple trees. That and eating roadkill while on assignment is how we keep our costs to the client nice and low.


We found some more deer paddocks (and hay bales) on the Crown Range road - New Zealand's highest sealed road, and James even managed to demonstrate he has a good eye and get a pretty decent picture of me in action before we headed down to Queenstown for a spot of lunch before heading back home to Dunedin. All in all, a pretty productive trip, with some great bonus shots. You just never know what's going to present itself on a road trip.

Clive Copeman

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Warbirds over Wanaka

Warning. This post contains pure aircraft porn. If you like this sort of thing, you can click on through and browse around the other images on my flickr stream. Otherwise, you might want to turn away and come back for the next post. It'll have real birds. Well, one anyway.

I am now a convert to the whole Warbirds over Wanaka thing. In previous years I might have thought of it as a waste of a perfectly good Easter break better spent on fly fishing or shooting pictures, but now I'm a believer. I attended last weekend's event with my family and business partner before embarking on a few days shooting for a big client. Being with others, I didn't really devote myself to capturing all the scenes, that would take a few days dedicated shooting, but I came away with a few keepers, and plenty of ideas for next time.

Warbird Pilot

There's plenty to see and hear. For the pure armed conflict enthusiast, there are displays from various re-enactment groups, complete with the noisy firing of blanks from automatic weapons that slightly freaked Miss C(8). Then of course there's a contingent from the New Zealand Armed Forces. This year my nephew was there representing the navy in his Kaman Sea Sprite, an armoured vehicle accompanied by some army personnel, and my nephew's fiancee and her new air force helicopter. That's the Sea Sprite below. The nephew was pretty stoked to be plotting a low level scenic route from Queenstown all the way back to Taieri airfield the next day. He's got it good.

Winch Wench and Kaman Sea Sprite

One treat was that we got to go inside the RNZAF C-130 Hercules, so I hopped into the cockpit, matched my flash to the ambient and got a nice little shot looking out across the valley.

Hercules Cockpit

And then there are the warbirds.

Duncan's Dove of Peace

WWII is always well represented, this year by Yakolev Yaks, Supermarine Spitfires, Mustangs and Kitty Hawks among others. This is the Corsair, which I have a bit of a soft spot for because I had a model of one as a kid.


I actually liked the WWI aircraft more than the stuff from my Dad's era. Possibly because their slightly slower airspeed makes them easier to get a sharp picture of!

Dogfight over Wanaka

Bristol Beaufighter

That's not to say that the newer machines weren't pretty cool too. The Vampire and Hawker Hunter were two early British jets that made an appearance, accompanied by Air New Zealand's new black Boeing 777.

Vampire and Strikemaster

Hawker Hunter

Air NZ 777

Around 40,000 people attended this year, and in a couple of years time, there's a good chance I'll be among them again.


Wednesday, April 4, 2012


Yeah yeah, it's been a while. It's all work, work, work in this new video business. Between that and fronting my band, I haven't had time for a lot of stills shooting. Hopefully that'll change this weekend - I'm off to the Warbirds over Wanaka event. Definitely some good photographic material to be had there. I'll also be staying on for some video shoots that'll hopefully generate me some good stills as well. So what have I shot lately? Well, I did happen to be at the Weet-Bix Tryathlon the other weekend.

  Athlete and Mother

It was a 7.30 am start so I managed to get a few nice sunrise shots of Miss C(8) getting ready to participate with her teammate, a friend from her violin class. I was a little concerned that after only doing a couple of leisurely bike rides as prep, Miss C(8) wouldn't get as much out of the event as her mate, maybe it would have been a bit of a wasted exercise for her. Boy was I wrong. She really got into it.


During the race, I got plenty of the action on my DSLRs and long lenses, but a lot of my favourite shots were taken into the morning sun using fill flash on an ordinary point and shoot. It's quick and easy to pull off and gives such a classy look.


So let me wax philosophical about what I learned from this for a moment: Photography is not about how fancy your gear is or how wonderful your prep is. So often it's about being there, just doing it and coming away with something to remember.

A lot like the Weet-Bix Try.