Top images of 2016

It’s always difficult to pick your top images from a year. Sometimes it takes longer for the best ones to rise to the surface and for the bias of how you felt at the time to wear off and leave the cold facts behind. Good times, great light, average composition. Average photo. Other times it’s a question of picking the best from a series of similar images. You know the best one is in there somewhere, but which one? — more —

2015 and all that

It’s been an interesting and successful year for my photography. I have held an exhibition to raise money for the Nepal Earthquake victims, been selected as a finalist in the New Zealand Geographic Photographer of the Year competition and been on some fantastic photo missions, notably to the Ureweras, Whirinaki and Northland. Here are some of theOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA highlights:

 

The moon rises over Mt Cook. January 2015.

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The full moon as a compositional device

While some people prefer a new moon so they can shoot the milky way, I love shooting the full moon. The timing of it rising (at sunset) and setting (at sunrise)  provide opportunities to create a more interesting image and at a time of day with attractive lighting. The results can be stunning. Here are a few of my favourite compositions where the moon has added an extra factor and balanced or enhanced a composition.

Taranaki sunriseMt Taranaki sunrise — more —

Three beautiful bushwalks

I like to get into the wilderness for days at a time, but over the last year I have also been discovering some amazing places much closer to civilisation. I want to talk about a few of them in this blog post and the opportunities that they offer for photography. — more —

How to photograph a forest

Getting a decent photograph in a forest can be one of the hardest things in the world. Usually it’s too sunny. While the forest looks stunning to our eyes, the camera records only deep shadows and blown highlights. But there are some tricks and tips to look out for. The key ingredients for a successful photo of a forest include — more —

Golden hour, silver lining

I’m a¬† bit of a sucker for the golden hour. Preferably combined with an epic landscape, some mist, and maybe a reflection. Apart from the reflection, it was with this image in mind that Ian and I hiked up before sunrise to a ridge above Waihohunu Hut in Tongariro National Park.

Well, we got what I wished for, even if we didn’t get what we came for. The mist was too thick! It obscured the whole valley, and shrouded Ngauruhoe. Sunrise was dead.

Despite the disappointment, it was still a good exercise in arriving at a location pre-dawn and making fast decisions about where to set up, and what foreground interest to include, and compose for. The following images just needed a volcano rising out of the mist to be complete:

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Breaker Bay star trails

Breaker Bay in Wellington is by a fantastic headland that separates the harbour from the south coast. It has eroded into a series of sea stacks, with rocky outcrops and beaches on both sides offering endless possibilities.

Breaker Bay star trailsThe main reason for this trip was to shoot the night sky. I thought that the headland would provide an excellent foreground, and knew that the southern rotation would feature prominently in the background.

I wanted the moon to be bright enough to light the headland, but still allow for a long enough exposure to get a star trail and for the stars to be still visible. This particular night fitted the bill – it was one week before the full moon. Any later and my exposure times were going to be too short. Any earlier and the moon might be too weak to light the foreground.

This particular shot was a 23 minute exposure at F9. I normally like to shoot wide open for star trails, to maximise the brightness of the stars, but needed the extra depth of field on this occasion to ensure that the foreground was sharp.