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Not like it use to be.

Grab a coffee moment.

What is the subject genre you shoot, why do you call it street photography when it isn’t, why is it landscape photography when it’s a city skyline image.

I have read a few things this week about people categorising their images as one thing, and according to somebody it's incorrect and how dare they call it that.

 

Photography has changed, evolved,  moved on very quickly over the past few years and we all either move on with it, accept it and continue to do what we enjoy, or give it up as it's not for you.

Let me explain five years ago how many images did you see from the top of the crane on a construction site, or somebody that is photographing their sneakers off the rooftop of a building with fairy lights dangling off them? Answer never.

 

But nowadays its mainstream and accepted we are in an age where anything is possible, and everyone should be accepting of creative digital photography.

People still go on about the digital age and to be a photographer you need to have shot with film when the world was black and white, and we spent hours in a darkroom creating a perfect image, nowadays its all manipulated in Photoshop and isn’t real. Sometimes that is true and its then digital art but sometimes its the photographer's skill of getting every ounce of detail from the capture to show us.

 

Nobody likes change, change brings fear and uncertainty, and for some, it brings new opportunities and inspires to grow and be better. What side of the fence do you sit on?

 

We have to accept what was normal years ago is seen as old-fashioned and boring nowadays. We live in a fast paced society where we can capture an image process and post to social media within minutes,  all the comfort of a rooftop somewhere in Dubai or New York and two days later capture the northern lights in Iceland while fulfilling a bucket list item.  As well as you should have been there, it was an intense moment, changed my life forever.

 

It's not my world but it doesn’t mean that I disapprove of it, I have no ambition to travel the world in an 18-year-old landrover sleep in a roof tent and eat berries for a year capturing the world as I go.  But I respect those and enjoy seeing their images as they do it, the same as I have not intention to climb a crane in Auckland NZ and show off the city skyline wearing my favourite brand of sneakers but it happens.

 

What next electric cars… the world has gone mad.

What are we doing to New Zealand

I’m guilty of it, and if you have been to some of these places, then you are also guilty of it.

What is he rambling on about, bare with me and I will explain.

Last week I ventured down Mt Cook road heading towards Mt Cook Village in New Zealand, and halfway down is a little car park and a vantage point, called Peters point, now only a couple of years ago this was big enough for a few cars and some camper vans. At the vantage point you get the winding road heading to Mt Cook village, but on a clear day, you can see the majestic Mt Cook in the distance, a photographers dream shot.

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Last week as I arrived I witnessed the new editions to the location more car parking spaces, and a toilet block this place is now well and truly on the tour bus map. Truly a shame to see that a once small location is now on the tour bus “ must stop locations.” The Church of the Good Shepherd is no different they are even erecting a fence to keep people off the grass and reduced the damage that is being caused by a few mindless individuals that decide that they do not have to adhere to the rules and have no respect for the property or nature for that matter.

The boulders of Moeraki are also under threat as people etch their names in it as a permanent reminder that we were here, with no consequence or regard to the fact that they are there for everyone to enjoy.

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I understand when photographers do not give away locations to others it's not rude or arrogant, its to protect the location, nothing is secret and with some investigating and map reading you will find it.

We do need to start being more respectful to the environment we are in and what we post and always leave it as we found it and stay on the walkways and viewing platforms as what we post influences others to do the same or wander off and the designated tracks and ruin the location for generations to come.

This is happening globally due to the hugely popular image sharing sites that are available; there is nothing easier than hashtagging an image location, and before long it's on the photography circuit with the cost of travel cheaper than ever before it's our responsibility to be mindful of the locations we post.

Food for thought and I will be changing how I post locations going forward.

Spring is almost here.

If you are living in the southern hemisphere, the climate is changing, and spring is upon us, and what a funny kind of winter we have had it has been freezing and damp on the North Island and in the South Island snowfields that didn’t get much snow.

So with the season change, this means the days begin to get longer sunrise is earlier, and the warmer weather gives us that much-needed vitamin D.

Photography projects start to spring to mind and catch up’s with other like-minded people happen, and again we see familiar faces at familiar locations, and the conversation begin’s something like  “ its been ages haven’t seen you around.” “how are you, hows the family.”

Photographers are made up of a particular breed always willing to share their knowledge and assist where they can some even tell you the location from where they got that last image. Before you know it, mobile phones come out, and the stories begin it’s a great connection between people, and for a few good minutes, the taking of photographs becomes distant until the light is right and then it's like watching horse racing everyone is in the zone snapping away getting the shot.

From the seconds it takes to create to the glance at the back of the screen to the final image, then the questions start “ did you get anything?” “ no not really” is is an often used sentence or “don’t know will have a look later” or “ not really may have one I can use for social media.” The reality is we become very close and protective of our unedited images as if we are going to be criticised for taking a raw, unedited image, and nobody but nobody sees them before they have had the editing suite thrown at them until the grand unveiling.

The good thing is we all get our own set of images we all edit differently, and our eyes see different things which are great, and no location is ever the same that’s the beauty of photography no two days are the same. So why do we become possessed over unedited images like its an incompetence thing or are we afraid of the criticism of not capturing the perfect picture in camera and you have to go to the digital darkroom and conjure up some wizardry to make a decent image.

 

So looking forward to the warmer, drier weather. Are you if you are in the southern hemisphere.

 

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Eye of the Tiger

Its not everyday you get a phone call asking if you can be the stand in for a photographer friend who cant make a shoot, always up for a challenge I agreed then asked whats the job.

"oh its photographing Boxers and heavy plant machinery" easy I thought.

15.30 meet up time and met Shane Cameron the Mountain warrior and the brief was simple, he had an upcoming boxing event with 3 of his fighters and they wanted images of the MacKenzie fleet along with the boxers for the upcoming sky sports 1 fight night on November 3rd.

 

The shoot was simple have the Mackenzie logo in the frame along with the boxers so that the graphic design people at Sky sports could add logos and text for the TV advert, great insight in how they all work and a fun shoot with the team. 

Bring in the Military

Auckland NZ September 17 and a  major fuel crisis with the main pipeline from the North being damaged by workmen, this stopped the flow of millions of gallons of fuel each day to the fuel tanks based in Auckland.

What to do in a national crisis call in the Military and they responded by sending in teams of driver from the New Zealand Defense Force NZDF to jump into Linfox fuel tankers and keep the airport stocked up with fuel with minimum distruption.

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After inductions onto the various sites the NZDF where put into action and for the next 2 weeks the NZDF drove Linfox fuel tankers up and down the highways ensuring the airport got aviation fuel.

Great work by the armed forces and as a thank you each was presented with a recognition certificate from Linfox and BP New Zealand.

Nothing's Changed on Instagram.

Over a year ago I wrote a blog titled "Are we being ripped off as Photographers". And the funny thing is nothing has changed It may have even got worse.  

For the past few months I have been speaking with various people about social media and in particular Instagram and just watching what is happening, don't get me wrong I enjoy posting and the interaction of Instagram, but delve a little deeper and there are all sorts of shenanigans going on between companies and people. The truth be known I don't care what goes on, I have enough in my own life to worry about.

But what really is annoying is that there are so many people posting images, that are still not real be it a composite image and then selling workshops on the back of this stating that this is what you will capture if you come on "OUR" workshop or the general adding of elements to make the scene. Keep it f&*king real people, if not tell people, they may think twice about coming on your workshop!

Bots and computer aided help is also a big topic and a lot of people are using them to gain followers and likes, I do not understand it, is it that important to be have a gazillion followers, it takes hard work and dedication to build up any following and you have to put in the mileage and hard yards to keep them by posting and interacting with people, who are hopefully real and are not a bot.

 

Bullying is also rife within the IG communities, a photographer will be approached by a company or the other way around and together they will work out whats best for each other and good luck to them. They don't need harassing or publicly being pissed on that they are ruining the photography industry. Its a business and people go with the cheaper option if the quality is a good, that's what happens, also check back a few years ago when you was the one on a plane going to an instameet for FREE because of exposure and Instafame.

Instagram is as far as I am concerned still awesome, if you don't get involved in who is in bed with who or who is not talking to who and they don't know what they are doing etc comments, enjoy it for what it is, a photographic sharing site and if you are lucky to make money from it even better, but please don't become a Instafu*&kin Diva like so many are.

 

Cheers

Wayne

Goodbye Biffo, end of an era for this Iconic Airplane the Bristol Type 170 Freighter

This iconic piece of aviation history is about to embark on one last trip back home after years of sitting in a field. This Bristol Freighter is going back to Bristol UK in the coming weeks to be fully restored by the team at the Aerospace Bristol Museum and will remain there for thousands of visitors to enjoy.

This Bristol B170 Freighter ZK-EPG (c/n 13135) has been resting quietly at Ardmore since 31-08-1978. Built in 1954,[allocated the UK civil marks (but not taken up) of G-AMPK], as NZ5911 for the RNZAF with whom it was taken on charge on 05-05-1954.

It had a short burst of civilian life when it was registered as ZK-BJP on 30-03-1955 to the Air Department for loan to S.A.F.E (animal welfare). This was cancelled on 27-06-1956 when it was returned to the RNZAF.

It was withdrawn from use at Whenuapai on 14-12-1977 and sold, along with several others to R S Dwen of Ardmore. It re-joined our civil register on 17-08-1978. It was never converted to civil duties and was cancelled on 18-01-1991.

I had so many plans in my head on how I was going to shoot this plane and with the help of a good friend Anupam from Annupam Photography  we arrived very early on site to look around and work out how best to shoot this Big Bird, but we became quickly transfixed in its beauty, started talking about what it must have been like to fly in it and it was a pity it was leaving to go back to the UK,

The plan was to shoot sunset and stay to capture stars and hopefully the milky way. We set up the mobile lighting station and waited, sunset was a let down as there was not a cloud in the sky which meant that as soon as the stars come out it was action time.

We stayed and captured many a shot of the plane with lights without lights until we didn't have anymore angles to shoot. Different lighting was used from the Elinchrom Ranger Quadra Hybrid RX pack to the Yongnuo YN360 light stick.

An awesome experience to shoot something steeped in aviation history it was a pleasure.

Many thanks to Anupam for supplying the great company and lights.

To Ardmore aerodrome for letting us on site to shoot.

Nikon New Zealand for supplying lenses 

Photo gear Auckland for supplying tripod s and lighting and the continuos support 

Without all the support it would not have been possible.

 

Safe journey home Biffo!

 

Life with the Sirui N3203X tripod

"It's a thing of beauty"

I was asked to write a review on the Sirui N3230X carbon fibre tripod by the team at Photogear Auckland, but this isn't an unboxing or technical specs review. This is real life in the field and how it handled.

For the past few weeks I have been putting this piece of kit through its paces, taking it on night shoots, in the city and to coastal shoots, in high winds. Generally using it as my go-to tripod.

How did it perform? Read on and I will tell you.

Once you unbox the tripod, the first thing that is very apparent is how light weight it is, weighing in at 1.8kg (without the ball head) this is super light and feels good in the hand with its chunky tubular sections. When loosening the tripod legs there is the distinctive swooshing movement that suggests quality. It sounds like air is sealed inside. It is an awesome sound, like closing the door on a luxury car. It has brought a smile to my face every time I have set up my photography gear to use this nifty piece of kit.

The Sirui N3230X takes about 45 seconds to set up to have ready for action. This version has twist locks, half a turn and the legs are locked or unlocked for extension/retraction, as required. Once fully erected this thing is solid and can easily withstand some punishment more on that to come.

Unlike other brands of tripod, the Sirui N3203X has 2 foam covers on the legs for carrying and comfort. Awesome in freezing cold weather as it protects your hands. Have you ever tried picking up a tripod in sub zero temperatures? Trust me its not nice.

I partnered the tripod with the Sirui K 20X ball head, also from the team at Photogear; which worked flawlessly throughout the tests and was a perfect match for this tripod, think peas and carrots and we are on the same page.

On all tests, the tripod has been easy to operate and has functioned smoothly and effortlessly. There are particularly handy height indicators on each leg that just makes set up that much easier and I seemed to use this feature far more than I thought I would.

The Sirui tripod, unlike many others has enough adjustment that once set up it can stand nice and tall, which is great for all taller photographers ( I'm 6' 6" ). During my time on the rugged West Coast of Auckland- in high winds, the rigidity of the tripod meant that I didn't have to shield the camera / tripod from the howling winds. 

The ease of adjusting the legs is a half twist per section which makes raising and lowering the tripod a quick and seamless job, especially useful when you need to set up quickly.

The tripod breaks down to become a mono pod if required which is a neat feature and will save you having to purchase another piece of equipment.

One thing that will please the Landscape photographer is that this tripod has legs that will splay fully to give a low to ground setup. The center column is removable and if required has a hook to suspend a weight from to add more stability.

Is it waterproof? No. However the tripod sections come apart very easily for cleaning and maintenance. 

I do recommend this tripod. It is very versatile, solid and makes the job of taking photos easy. Compared to other products in this category, the tripod is very well priced.

This tripod comes with a 6 - year warranty, as expected from something of this quality. The Sirui N3203X does feel high-end and operates as high-end. A huge step forward from what was 10 years ago an unknown Chinese manufacture.

Couch Photographer!

You're going to read how I plan a photography trip from the couch. 

People say that photography is 80% business and 20% actually shooting and whilst most of us would like it the other way round, unfortunately, this is pretty much the case.  So it pays to prepare, fail to plan, plan to fail.

I going to give you an insight on how I plan a location to shoot and we will start with the easy stuff first Astrophotography :-)

Once you understand the camera and settings on how to shoot Astrophotography, the next biggest issue is location and weather but in today's world this can be planned from the comfort of your couch or the bath tub although it differ from the real environment.

Where to shoot, will it be dark enough, how do I get there and so the list grows but fortunately for us all, there is an app for that. 

When planning a shoot I always break it down into bite size chunks and make coffee.

Location: Google your local area or hometown and add Astro to the end of the search,  search for images, do the same if you are looking to travel to a different location, Expand your search onto social media and check out what others have done at the location, what's around, does it have foreground interest or any interesting features , is it easy to get to or how far is it. Google Maps and Google earth are also great for this kind of research.

Dark skies: Will the location have light pollution, well you have guessed it, there is an app for that, great for checking and planning. (Tip: you do not always need a complete dark sky to shoot the stars or milky way).

Moon Phase: When is the moon rise or moon set on any given day what phase the moon is it on any given day this can be critical information if you want to shoot the moon or not.

Weather: The biggest challenge is always the weather, there are so many weather apps and its difficult to choose just one, so I use a couple to check the weather, even hourly on the day  ( be assured they are not 100% correct).

The wind speed and direction as you don't want to be heading out in a force 10 gale.

Tides (if I heading to the ocean) as this can make or break an image if the tides are wrong and also saves on wet feet and being uncomfortable all night long.

Now we need to know where the stars and milky way is going to be in the sky so we know what time to get to the location again apps come to the rescue enabling me to plan accurately, saving me time or even a wasted trip, when you could be toasty warm in bed. I have had plenty of them

Easy right, but as you can see from the above it takes a little time and effort and once you have got use to the apps then it becomes second nature.

I have not listed the apps as these are the ones that I like and use they are forever changing as well due to new technology or recommendations from people., there are so many out there on both the Apple apps store and Google play its best if you find what you like and work on getting to know them intimately as they will become your best planning friend.

I enjoy the planning aspect and can plan week or months in advance for trip that I am about to take.

In the footsteps steps of Giants

Mt Cook base camp was established 23.7km away from our desitination. We rested up for the night, under a clear sky. Well, it would have been if we hadn't slept in the camper van. The sound of silence could be heard in the distance. 03.30 am and a siren began to ring out shrilly in to the pitch blackness. No time to lose. Was this our Destiny calling? Or was it my phone alarm? Come to think of it, I don't know anybody called Destiny. Must have been the phone!

Like many before us, Sir Edmond Hilary, Christopher Columbus and a man from Invercargill called Dave, we reached the car park at the start of the Hooker Valley trail. We were a team of 4 mountaineering experts that had trained for this expedition for seconds. We all had specialties that would ensure we achieved our target. The team consisted of Vic - mountaineering paramedic and Yoga Yoda . Mark - A lot like Bear Grylls but Ginger, Scout leader with all the gear. Paul - photographer and expedition leader, having flown over so many mountains around the world, in airplanes. Me - Wayne, wanna be mountaineer, carrier of far to much equipment and very unfit.

We looked at our maps and decided that with the night sky, they were not needed. Instead we followed the sign posts that had been left from previous expeditions before us. Quite handy, and they saved us a lot of time on navigating. Off we walked into the mouth of darkness like the dwarfs from Snow White, but definitely not singing as some people are Dopey, Grumpy and Sleepy, first thing in a morning. See what I did there.

We walked for hours and the cold was beginning to take its toll, Vic kept checking on our conditions and with words of encouragement from the team, we navigated by the stars and the sign posts (as that was far easier). Onward we went thinking about the men and woman before us and couldn't believe how they had managed to conquer such an arduous task. But we were not going to be defeated by the hellishly long track of 4.5km regardless of a bit of snow and ice.
 

We finally made it. Completely exhausted, we stood at the rendezvous point. We knew that we had arrived, as there was a picnic table and a sign to say "post a selfie with Mt cook in the background." They think of everything, our heroes of earlier times. The truth of how difficult the climb actually was suddenly became very real; as there, lying on the ground, was a frozen pullover from a previous expedition that obviously hadn't made it. We paid our respects and left it lying there as a constant reminder to others that if you are warm take off your pullover. 
 

We came, we saw and we conquered, and then on the way back to base camp we fell, we slipped and we swore.... a lot.
 

A Brit in a Britz, The Journey.

Wow those great guys and Gals at Britz, have given me a discount code if you are interested in booking, so what are you waiting for, follow the link to the ultimate road trip experience of your own. Our trip

For the past 8 days I have spent my time traveling around New Zealand's South island, on my own in a camper van from the team at  Britz Campers . #gobycamper

Day One. Picking up the camper van from Queenstown Airport was super easy, the van was ready to go, heated up and with instructions on how to use the van. The team were first class, they even supplied me with a super sat nav equipped with extras such as campermate, and  also doubled as a wifi hotspot. Awesome work.

The journey started at Queenstown to Glentanner near Mt Cook, to spend the night and then photograph sunrise the following morning at Hooker Lake. Taking in the views of New Zealands highest mountain, Mt Cook.

Day Two. It was a very early start and the outside temperatures were well into double figures, minus double figures that is. I didn't want to get up, I was toasty warm in the van, under my duvet, but I had to. After my morning ritual cup of coffee, I was away, heading down the track in snow and ice to get to Hooker Lake.

I was greeted by a 360 degree panoramic view of mountains, snow and ice. Utterly surrounded by snow, floating ice and glaciers, I finally felt at one with the cold. Call me Olaf.

Day Three. Waking up at Lake Tekapo was pretty amazing. I just sat in my van looking out onto the snow capped mountains drinking coffee (all my trips include lots and lots of coffee) and taking it all in. It is a great way to spend time.

Day Four. A big drive today, stopping off at various locations between Tekapo and Te Anau,  I wanted to get to Te Anau by sunset to photograph the jetty that goes into the lake. With no time to spare I arrived, within minutes of sunset and after a great day of driving. Sunset did not disappoint either.

Day Five. What should have been a short drive from Te Anau to Milford Sound took what felt like ages. The roads are so narrow and windy, that you have to take it easy, but with such spectacular views, who would want to rush? There were plenty of photo opportunities along the way and I didn't miss a single one, stopping frequently to appreciate the landscapes.

 

Day Six. In Milford Sound -without a mobile phone signal, was a new concept to me. What did we do before mobile phones? With time to think and relax, the time here was like a holiday from the holiday. Feeling totally off line gave me plenty of time to explore Milford Sound and capture some amazing images at sunrise, sunset and of the night sky.

Day Seven. A local was telling me that the southern lights were visible in the Southern night sky, so whilst having lunch at Te Anau I researched good locations to shoot this from and decided on Waipapa Lighthouse at the very bottom of New Zealand. One of the huge benefits of having the freedom of a camper van is that you can change your plans to suit you, whenever you want to change them. I was so excited to have seen the southern lights. What an experience. Thank you local! And thank you sat nav; you found me a local camp site to stay at for the night.

 

Day Eight. My stay at Waipapa Point meant that I had another long drive ahead of me to return to Queenstown. I wanted to capture Queenstown at sunset/night.  Fortunately for me the weather was kind and it was a good night for photography.

With over 1800Km behind me and lots of photographs taken, I sit here now whilst typing this reflecting (with a cup of coffee) on what an awesome trip that was. For the help from the team at Britz who made this possible and for Donna the camper van - thank you.

 

A Brit in a Britz.

A Brit in a Britz.

Well all the planning and preparation is done and the long awaited trip to New Zealand's South Island is upon me.

On Wednesday 01st June 16, I flew out of Auckland and head South to Queenstown.

I will be cruising the highways and byways of the South Island with the help from Britz Campers  and Go by campers  to showcase my journey and what I get up to for 9 days.

Meet Donna the camper van, named after the character in Suits, as she always gets the job done!.

Taking in the most breathtaking scenes and locations that the South island of New Zealand has to offer. 

I will be documenting the journey daily, with updates on Instagram and Facebook so ensure you follow the antics of what I get up to.

 The equipment for the journey.

The equipment for the journey.

Lets do this!

NiSi V5 filter holder system review.

NiSi V5 filter holder system review.

A review of the NiSi V5 filter holder, how much more of an improvement is it over the V3.