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ISSUE 26, December 2019
CONFESSIONS OF A NOT SO PROFESSIONAL PHOTOGRAPHER
BY PETER LAURENSON
December 2019 1
WELCOME TO ISSUE 26 OF
NZ PHOTOGRAPHER MAGAZINE
I hope you're ready to indulge in
some wanderlust as issue 26 is all
We've interviewed travel
photographer Maria Ligaya
whose words and images take us
around the globe to Mongolia,
the Balkans, the Cook Islands,
Chile, and the Philippines which
is where Maria is originally from.
In New Zealand, we head to
Lake Matheson with Brendon,
go to Mokau Beach in Behind
the Shot, and head to a secret
waterfall location with Ken
Wright before returning to the
theme of over-tourism and how
we can protect Aotearoa with
We also welcome Peter Laurenson back as he reveals more about his style
of shooting in confessions of a not so professional photographer and then
Philip Banks shares his photography journey with us, explaining how joining
photography groups led him to produce his first solo exhibition.
No doubt many of you will be travelling over the holidays too, whether
you're jumping on a flight or hopping in the car, let me take the time to
wish you safe travels and happy holidays wherever you may be.
Editor NZ Photographer
NZPhotographer Issue 26
by Maria Ligaya
Brendon is the man
behind ESB Photography.
He is an avid tramper
who treks from sea to
mountain, and back
again, capturing the
uniqueness of New
Co-founder of Excio, Ana's
started many years ago
with one of the first Kodak
film cameras. She loves
exploring the unseen
macro world and capturing
genuine people's emotions.
Richard is an awardwinning
wildlife photographer who
workshops and runs
photography tours. He
is the founder of New
nzphotographer nzp_magazine email@example.com
© 2019 NZPhotographer Magazine
All rights reserved. Reproduction of any material appearing in this magazine in
any form is forbidden without prior consent of the publisher.
Opinions of contributing authors do not necessarily reflect the
opinion of the magazine.
INTERVIEW WITH MARIA LIGAYA
DRIFTING LEAVES AT MAMAKU
BY KEN WRIGHT
BEHIND THE SHOT
with Helen Knight
INTERVIEW WITH MARIA LIGAYA
DRIFTING LEAVES AT MAMAKU FALLS
by Ken Wright
CONFESSIONS OF A NOT SO PROFESSIONAL
By Peter Laurenson
By Ann Wheatley
A PHOTO JOURNEY THAT LEADS TO
THE CELEBRATION OF WELLINGTON
By Philip Banks
WELLINGTON HERITAGE PHOTO QUEST
WHAT’S THE MOST IMPORTANT THING
By Ana Lyubich
A MIRROR VIEW
by Brendon Gilchrist
WHAT’S THE MOST
BY ANA LYUBICH
A MIRROR VIEW
BY BRENDON GILCHRIST
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15 Day: North Island Landscapes
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7 Day: West Coast Wilderness
7 Day: South Island Beaches
7 Day: Volcanic North Island
7 Day: Northland & Bay of Islands
4 Day: Fiordland
021 0845 7322
Behind The Shot
with Helen Knight
HELEN, INTRODUCE YOURSELF TO US…
I am 52 years old and a mother of two amazing
young women who are living their lives – My
youngest daughter Ceridwyn is 18 and is studying
law and psychology and my oldest, Ashlynbrenna is
studying to be a personal trainer.
I live in a small town called Te Kuiti with my two cats
and two dogs which are Bull Mastiff x Jack Russel,
overlooking the township.
MOKAU SUNSET DRIFTWOOD
F18, 1/2000s, ISO320
What makes me tick is being in such a beautiful
country and seeing the beautiful birds and wild
scenery that we have – Behind my house is bush
and farmland, every morning I wake up to the
chorus of birds as they bring in a new day.
WHERE’S YOUR FAVOURITE PLACE IN NZ?
My favourite place to visit on the West Coast is
Mokau which is an hours drive from Te Kuiti. It
is beautifully wild with hardly anyone there. My
other favourite coast to visit is Tirohanga outside
of Opotiki on the East Coast, the campsite there
is a fantastic place to stay. Of course, I prefer to
go off season to these places when there are less
TELL US ABOUT YOUR JOURNEY WITH
I got into photography in high school when
I was part of the magazine club back in the 80’s
where I was a student at Ruapehu college. But
it was during my time living in Tauranga that my
passion evolved and grew and where I became
obsessed with sunrises and sunsets – Getting up
in the early hours to rush to the mount to see
the sunrise. I love the colours that nature brings
to you in those early moments, the golden hour
or blue hour as we call it. It’s a time I feel the
power and glory of nature and when you stand
on a beach and see that glorious sun rising and
knowing that New Zealand is the first to see its
rays makes it even more special – It gives you
hope that nothing is all that bad in the world.
It’s been a hard year this year with a marriage
breakup and going through ‘the change’.
It was extremely debilitating and I suffered
tremendously with depression and anxiety. My
health was affected greatly by the sudden
decrease of hormones, they became so low it
affected my ability to even think and I became
extremely emotional with things. My mothers
death three years ago did not help and my
husband’s diagnosis with Huntington’s disease
made things even harder. We are still supporting
each other and I am still supporting him but
I needed to find myself and find who I was to
become a better person so that I could be there
for him. I needed to find myself to come right.
I love my photography, it’s a passion that runs
deep and has saved my life. At one time I nearly
gave it up but I’m glad I haven’t. It takes me
places and I meet amazing people and have a
journey and adventures at the same time.
I love to photograph nature, macro,
astrophotography, city nightscapes, dancers,
and also I love fire photography and have done
quite a bit of work in that area. I would love to
get into photographing ballet dancers and into
extreme sports photography so yes my tastes
vary and I experiment with photography all the
time since technology is forever changing.
December 2019 7
I love knowing that I am part of preserving history,
preserving precious moments and creating images
that evoke emotion. It’s about giving others
pleasure and preserving our way of life even if it is
just for a split second.
WHAT ARE YOU SHOOTING WITH?
For my landscapes, I have a Nikon D5500 with an
My Canon 80D which alas has died recently, is
currently getting fixed at Canon. For this camera.
I have a 16–300mm Tamron lens, a 150–600mm
Tamron lens and a Samyang 8mm wide angle
which I use for Astro photography. I also have a
Singh-ray Trio filter, a Pluto trigger, and a tripod.
I don’t have a lot of funds for photography but will
hopefully be able to upgrade soon – I’d love a full
frame camera one day.
TELL US ABOUT YOUR PHOTO FROM
The photo was taken on 8 th November 2019, a
The day before this shot I had just found out my
husband was diagnosed with cancer, a tumour
in his throat along with liver disease so a lot of
thoughts were going through my mind, a lot of
I have known my husband since I was fifteen years
old. When he was 23 years old he was in a serious
car accident and suffered a chronic back injury
and brain injury. We were married in 1997 and
together for 21 years, so the last year was very hard
as I was his support person. Even though we are
apart it is still very raw and emotional but I am there
always whether he wants it or not.
Combining my anxiety and this latest news, it took
a lot for me to get to Mokau that day but I was
determined as I enjoy spending time at the beach –
I love the power of the waves as it cleanses the soul
and recharges your being.
I did some long exposures that day and noticed
that even more driftwood had washed onto the
beach from when I was last there. It looked like
remnants of decayed skeletons scattered over the
sand, the wind blowing sand across the surface like
those old cowboy movies with the tundra blowing
across the scene.
Whilst taking photos and picking up rubbish (every
place I go I make sure I remove rubbish that I see)
I was having conversations with God and asking
him why is he so cruel, berating him. But as I left
I thanked him for the wonders of nature that he
bestows upon us, the beauty and the power of life.
WHAT ELSE SHOULD WE KNOW ABOUT YOU?
I am half blind from an accident I had as a kid
where a golf ball smashed through my glasses into
my left eye, I’m classed as a monocular driver.
I also have impinged hips and suffer with quite
a bit of pain in my left hip. I’m also half deaf lol
and was born with a rare syndrome along with a
hole in the heart. None of this stops me getting to
places, but what did stop me was the depression
and anxiety – this can be more powerful than any
physical disability you can imagine.
WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS AND DREAMS FOR
Now my girls have grown up I have more time
to concentrate on my photography. My dream
job would be to work for a magazine. I have a
bachelor’s in graphic design and photography and
want to get into journalism/photography.
I am taking a cruise next year as an internship on
the Holland American Cruise ship that is travelling
up to Cascade Islands, back down to New
Zealand, Bay of Islands, New Plymouth, Mount
Maunganui, Wellington and Akaroa. Where I will be
writing a blog and promoting the cruise.
I am also currently selling my property in Te Kuiti and
hopefully getting a motorhome where I will spend
the next few years touring New Zealand. I have a
dream to create my own publication too, I have a
few ideas in mind!
WHERE CAN WE FIND YOU ONLINE?
BEHIND THE SHOT IS PROUDLY
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December 2019 9
Interview with Maria Ligaya
MARIA, WELCOME! LET US KNOW WHO ARE
YOU AND WHAT YOU DO…
I was born and raised in the Philippines but am
currently residing in West Auckland with my partner.
I work as an accounts administrator in one of the top
manufacturing companies in the country and am a
I graduated from a course in business management
with honours at the University of the East, Philippines.
I previously worked as a customer service officer in
banking, a budget analyst for government agencies,
and as an office administrator in a real-estate
The course of my life changed entirely when a
window of opportunity opened and I was given a job
offer to work in New Zealand – I packed my bags and
left my home town 10 years ago.
Currently, apart from pursuing my love for travel
photography (I often break the routine of everyday
life to pursue my dreams by travelling to the lesserknown
corners of the globe!), I am working as a
sports photographer for the Beach Series, an 18 week
ocean swim, beach run & stand-up paddle fitness
series held at Takapuna Beach throughout summer.
I am also creating content for a camera phone
brand specialising in designing innovative mobile
WHEN DID PHOTOGRAPHY ENTER YOUR LIFE
AND WHERE HAS THAT PASSION LED YOU?
I knew deep inside me that there was this “hole in
my soul” that would grow deeper and deeper until
I couldn’t fill it in. You see, 3 years ago, life hit me hard,
it hurt me, knocked me down and I suffered from mild
depression. It was so difficult to handle; I had some
suicidal thoughts. I know that the only way to fight
through these thoughts is to not surrender, not allow
myself to be consumed by them.
I looked for something to be busy about – I occupied
myself with work but I knew that was just stressing me
out even more. I looked for something more creative
to do, something where I could express myself.
I started sketching and painting some abstracts.
I travelled too and so as to document my travel
experiences, I bought my first DSLR.
I started taking photos of everything that would
remind me of all the moments I had while travelling,
from landscapes to portraits of locals and even
strangers along the road. With every click of the
shutter, I felt alive! As I saw the images I took,
somehow, I could connect with them. I started to take
photos wherever I went and later on, photography,
helped me to express my feelings that are too difficult
to put into words.
Photography became a way of personal healing and
growth. It started to build my self-esteem. It enabled
me to learn more about myself and to see the world
differently. That “hole in my soul” started to be filled in
with so much hope and faith. Photography became a
I knew I needed to learn more about composition
and the technicalities of photography so I started
attending workshops and took photography courses
online, this earned me a Diploma in Advanced
Using what I learned in the course, I applied for
some photography jobs to have extra income. I was
hired to shoot a wedding and then other events like
birthdays. My first proper work as a photographer
was with Express Magazine, New Zealand’s leading
LGBT+ media, where I took photos for events and
nightclubs, working there for 3 years. I was also hired
y a professional photographer to assist her with child
photography in her studio.
I am grateful for all these photography opportunities
and never really expected that what had started as
a personal healing process would lead me to where
I am today! In fact, I never really considered myself as
a professional photographer, not even close to that.
I think of myself as a girl with a camera who enjoys
capturing all moments, regardless of whether those
moments are mine or someone else’s.
For me, photography is not about the end result,
it’s the process. It is something I just love doing, and
sometimes for no reason. It’s not something that I do
to please anybody else, I do it because it makes me
happy. Photography is where I feel most alive.
WHAT’S IN YOUR CAMERA BAG?
My camera bodies include a Canon 6D Mark II (fullframe),
a Sony A7 Mark 1 (Mirrorless), and an Olympus
OMD (Micro four-thirds).
For the 6D Mark II I use two Canon lenses, the EF
17–40mm f/4L USM Lens is my walk-around lens and
the EF 70–200mm f/2.8L I use for events and sports
photography, it’s good for portraits too.
For my Sony, I use a FE24–240mm f/3.5–6.3 OSS lens,
this is my most versatile lens that I use for my travel
photography. For my Olympus camera, I use a 45mm
F1.8 lens which I use for street photography and
Recently, I found myself going back to the basics
and falling in love with film cameras again – It
reminds me of my childhood and why I fell in love
with photography in the first place. I started using an
Olympus Trip 35 and Praktica MTL 5. I love using film
cameras as it allows me to enjoy my surroundings
whilst focusing on creating compositions, not
distracted by the elaborate settings and complexity of
the digital cameras of today.
DO YOU HAVE A FAVOURITE TRAVEL
This is one of those questions that I find hard to
answer – It’s like having children, you know deep in
your heart that you love and adore all of them!
Personally, my favourite travel destination varies from
the memories that I made, good or bad. Despite
having more than one favourite destination, the place
that has the softest spot in my heart is Mongolia.
F4, 1/160s, ISO500
December 2019 11
YOLYN AM, MONGOLIA
F4, 30s, ISO4000
On our visit to Mongolia, we stayed in a traditional
ger with a host family and received a warm welcome
from the other nomadic families, experiencing their
hospitality, playing with their children, and eating
delightful homemade dishes including “airag”, the
Mongolian delicacy of fermented mare’s milk. We
joined in with family life; milking the goats, rounding up
and guarding their herds, and driving those herds to
Through living in a ger with the nomadic families, it
gave us genuine insight into a simple and pure way
of living, that despite having no wealth, and not too
many possessions, these people still live a free and
contented life. Life in Mongolia as a nomad can be
harsh sometimes, but we felt that the saying ‘less is
more’ rang true and this is what led me to question
my own way of living and to reflect on how little stuff
I need in life to be happy; that material things don’t
last – I truly believe that the true meaning of happiness
comes from experiences, it comes from the things we
learn, not the things that we own, after all, it was here
in the Gobi Desert that I got engaged!
TELL US ABOUT YOUR MOST RECENT TRIPS
ABROAD THIS YEAR…
I was truly humbled and fortunate that, despite my
busy full-time job, this past couple of months I was
able to travel to the Baltic countries: Latvia, Lithuania,
and Estonia, and right after that, I travelled to one of
the Pacific Island Countries, the Cook Islands.
In the Baltic countries, I travelled with my partner
Greg. We were moving all the time, from one region
to another, and rented a car instead of joining a
group tour so that we could include those off-thebeaten-path
places. We love travelling independently
on our own, apart from the fact that it’s cheaper, we
find it challenging and we get to choose our own
Many people underrate the Baltic Countries by
just visiting its capital cities: Riga in Latvia, Vilnius in
Lithuania and Tallinn in Estonia. But the Baltics are
more than just the old towns. We spent a considerable
amount of time exploring the hidden gems that these
countries have to offer, each with its own diverse
landscape, cuisine, and culture.
We ventured to different National Parks of each
country; Gauja National Park, Latvia’s first and most
popular park that was established in 1973. Curonian
Spit National park in Lithuania where one of the
highest dunes is located and last but not least,
Lahemaa National Park where the mysterious “bog” is
HILL OF CROSSES, LITHUANIA
F18, 1/200s, ISO250
December 2019 13
F9, 1/250s, ISO320
TRAKAI ISLAND, LITHUANIA
F14, 30s, ISO125
A LADY IN THE ORTHODOX
F2.8, 1/40s, ISO2500
December 2019 15
F13, 1/250s, ISO250
HERMANN CASTLE, ESTONIA
F13, 1/250s, ISO250
F10, 1320s, ISO200
TURAIDA CASTLE, LATVIA
F5.6, 1/200s, ISO200
December 2019 17
One way to understand a country’s culture is through its
cuisine. Generally, the Baltic’s are all about potatoes and
rye bread but each have their own unique dishes that have
been passed from one generation to another along with
accompanying stories. Some traditional dishes we tried
included Latvia’s National Dish – a stew made from grey peas
mixed with fried bacon and pork. We also sampled black
bread and the classic sauerkraut soup. Lithuania is known
for its potato dumplings – hearty, football-shaped dumplings
made with grated raw potatoes and rice boiled potatoes.
They are made in either a curd cheese variety served with a
sour cream-milk sauce or a meat variety. In Estonia, they love
to pickle things, and of course, there’s the blood sausage.
Religion is another fascinating aspect of the Baltic’s. While
Christianity is the main religion, it was interesting to see the
several denominations and differences between churches,
from Catholic to Lutheran to Orthodox and so on.
The journey through the Baltics, as we tried to encompass as
much as we could, certainly gave us a better understanding
of the region’s past. From the atrocities of the concentration
camps around Riga towards the end of WWII, to life under
the Soviet Union which is still remnant in the buildings and ruins
both the towns and the countryside. More recently, to the
fight for Sovereignty in the early 90s as the people peacefully
demonstrated by forming a human chain from Tallinn to
Riga and on to Vilnius, what famously came to be called the
With the Cook Islands, everybody knows that this country is
rich in beautiful lagoons, crystal clear beaches, and gorgeous
resorts. Many are mistaken with the idea that once they’ve
seen one country in the Pacific Islands, you’ve seen them all.
While it is true that the seascapes might be no different from
one another, their culture and traditions are very unique.
We immersed ourselves deeply in the culture of the Cook
Islands by attending their church service on Sundays. This is
not hard to do as most resorts offer this kind of experience as
part of their package but we went on our own. It was nice
to observe the locals dressed up in their best brightest white
or colourful outfits as they entered the sacred place. Women
wore a variety of headdresses like a hat and a beautiful
garland of flowers. When mass started, we let ourselves be
carried away with the choir’s angelic voices. After the service,
we were invited for morning tea in which the local people
bring food they prepare at home to be shared with others
after the service.
While on the island of Rarotonga, we were able to witness
a unique celebration called “NUKU” – a celebration of the
arrival of Christianity. Churches compete against each other
to put on the best show. Islanders dress up, sing, dance, play
music, perform some stage dramas and generally have a
We wouldn’t have been able to experience these
traditions if we had just stayed in the comfortable confines
of the hotel resorts – Yes, it is important to relax and enjoy
yourself while travelling, but it is more meaningful if you
learn a country’s customs and culture as you can then
also learn to appreciate your own.
ONE FOOT ISLAND, AITUTAKI,
F5.6, 1/1000s, ISO100
WOMAN READING THE BIBLE
DURING THE SUNDAY MASS,
RAROTONGA, COOK ISLANDS
F2.8, 1/400s, ISO500
NUKU, A GOSPEL CELEBRATION
IN THE COOK ISLANDS
F2.8, 1/250s ISO250
December 2019 19
WHERE ARE YOUR FAVOURITE PLACES TO
TAKE PHOTOS IN THE PHILIPPINES?
Cultural landscapes of the Philippine are
very diverse, a treasure trove for nature and
adventure lovers, and the reason why I am proud
of where I came from.
When I last visited home, one of the places
I loved photographing was Boracay Island. This
small island in the central Philippines is known for
its beach resorts and diverse marine life, and of
course, it is a prominent place for sunsets.
For a more distinct landscape, I love the place
called ‘The Chocolate Hills”, a geological
formation in the central Visayas region of the
country that has been dubbed the “8th Wonder
of the World”. During the dry season, the grasscovered
hills dry up and turn chocolate brown.
This transforms the area into seemingly endless
rows of “chocolate kisses”.
For more cultural and artistic photo possibilities,
Ilocos Region is the place to go. It’s known for
its historic sites and the well-preserved Spanish
colonial city. It holds a special place in my own
heart as it’s the birthplace of my late Father.
From time to time, I visit my Mother’s birthplace,
Pangasinan which is located in the Northern
Philippines. This is where the infamous “Hundred
Islands” can be found. The distinct mushroomshaped
islands (caused by years of ocean waves
and eroding action) are believed to be over two
million years old, very interesting to photograph.
HOW ABOUT A FAVOURITE PLACE IN NZ
I love going to the South Island, specifically
Aoraki National Park which I only discovered
recently. Notable for its mountains, lakes,
and glaciers, there are endless photography
opportunities due to the sheer natural
landscapes with so many trails to explore so
many great things to experience.
On our visit, we took a caravan and drove around
the Aoraki. We hiked the Sealy Tarns track which
is called the “Stairway to Heaven” and traversed
the Tasman lake. I have a very sentimental
connection and memory with Aoraki, it being the
highest mountain in NZ but also the first mountain
in NZ that I hiked during the time I was depressed.
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON OVER-
TOURISM AND INSTA-WORTHY IMAGES?
Over-tourism has been an issue for several years
now and while social media does play a role
in contributing to the problem, it cannot be
held solely responsible as humans, by nature,
can become destructive, ignorant, and trash
the environment. Social media and the culture
of taking a selfie at a specific location has just
magnified these consequences to different
Most people choose their travel destinations
based on what they see on social media and
try to be “cool” by visiting what is trending
now. Once they reach the destination, they
try to recreate the image that they saw, and if
they fail, they feel frustrated. They forget that
the experience of just being there is more than
enough. In this case, I think social media has
become a tool to feed the ego – the inclination
to show the world that they live a perfect life by
collecting photos for their Instagram feed instead
of collecting moments and experiences.
At the end of the day, it is up to each
individual to decide whether they want to be
a responsible traveller or not. We can choose
to have a positive impact on the places we
visit and similarly choose to share enriching and
informative content on social media. This can be
in the form of a story, or a local interaction or a
personal experience. This, in turn, will influence
people to experience rather than search for
“insta-worthy” destinations around the globe.
Social media is just a tool, and like any tool, it
can be misused by people.
TELL US ABOUT YOUR TRIP TO CHILE AND
YOUR INVOLVEMENT WITH TRAVOLUTION
When I was planning my trip to Chile, I was
looking to have an authentic and communitybased
experience. I stumbled upon Travolution
Travel and read about their mission and goal
which instantly appealed to me – They work to
promote locally-led projects and communities
by giving visitors the chance to meet local
people and experience authentic cultural
exchange. It’s about supporting local products
and homestays that have a direct benefit for the
local community, as well as travellers.
On arriving in the Atacama Region of Chile
through Travolution, we had the opportunity
of staying with a family in the tiny little village
of Coyo. It is here that many of the indigenous
people known as the “Lickan Antay” live. From
experiencing the Ancestral Llama Caravan, to
learning about the crops grown locally and trying
out several local dishes, the activities proved to
be a wholesome experience as we were able
to connect with the local culture on a different
F4, 25s, ISO4000
December 2019 21
I share Travolution’s vision of travel where tourism
can be used to create a positive effect on the
community and encourage fellow travellers
to be more conscious of their decisions and
contributions. This was the main reason behind
my desire to publicise the company through my
social media accounts.
WHAT’S NEXT FOR YOU?
Next year, my partner and I are going back to
South America, this time to visit Argentina and
Uruguay, which I am very excited about. We also
have plans to go to Iran, later in the year.
CAN YOU LEAVE US WITH A TOP TRAVEL
Let go of expectations. It’s easy to presume
too much nowadays, with so many amazing
“ïnstagrammable” images posted throughout
social media. We tend to expect a certain
landmark to be the same, only to be
disappointed because it is far too different
from what we saw online. We forget that the
experience to be right there in the moment is far
more important than taking the same image we
saw on social media.
WHERE CAN WE FIND YOU ONLINE?
LUCIA COOKING DIFFERENT TYPES
OF CORN, CHILE
F5.6, 1/100s, ISO200
SANDRA, ONE OF THE
LICKAN ANTAY IN CHILE
F5.6, 1/100s, ISO200
2020, 1 Day Dates:
NZPW Tutor Ken Wright
29th Feburary, 4th July
& 24th October
NZPW Tutor Richard Young
2nd Feburary, 31st May
& 4th October
Long Exposure Workshop
This is a one day coastal and long exposure photography workshop at
Murrys Bay on Aucklands’s North Shore or Wellington’s South Coast.
On this workshop, you’ll learn how to shoot dramatic and awe-inspiring
coastal landscapes and make long exposure photographs.
This is designed as an intermediate-advanced workshop.
021 0845 7322
December 2019 23
Drifting Leaves at Mamaku Falls
by Ken Wright
MAMAKU GREEN DRIFT
F14, 0.5s, ISO100
December 2019 25
The first time that I saw this location I was blown away,
we spent an hour walking there and it poured with
rain so I didn’t get a shot. The next day we tried again
and got perfect light.
“Mamaku Falls” is about 1.5m high and about
6m wide. The cool thing about this location is the
foreground, perfect for my style of photography. I
place a lot of emphasis on the foreground as I want
the viewer to feel like they can walk into the shot.
The foreground in this location is made up of a rock
plate/shelf that over the years has split like a crazy
paving effect. The water runs across the surface at a
depth of 100mm, ankle deep but in the cracks it can
be anything from 500mm to 1.5m deep.
I have shot this fall so many times now that it has
become a challenge to find a new angle.
The concept of drifting leaves came from one
particular workshop, we had already captured the
effect with falling leaves so we decided to add more
to enhance the foreground and show the flow of
water. This created a nice dynamic green effect
drifting out of the foreground. The exposure length
was half a second and shot on burst mode to capture
the leaves as they flow out of the scene. The final
image is a blend of 4 images.
F10, 0.8s, ISO50
On a later workshop we tried to replicate the effect
with autumn leaves, to stand out from the chocolate
If you Google the name in the hope of finding the
location you will end up at my images. “Mamaku
Falls” is the name given to the location by myself and
the ranger that helped me find it, it’s not marked on
the NZ Too Map.
We so called it because each time we have been
there the light falls on the single Mamaku Fern above
the falls. To our knowledge it does not have an official
Each time I go back to this location its a challenge to
get better images than I have gotten before.
For me, this is my favourite location in the Kaimai
Mamaku Forest Conservation Park and it’s one of
several locations that I use for our remote Kaimai
Waterfalls Workshop. Join me in discovering this
magical place, and others, in May or July 2020 -
Workshops are limited to 4 people and you will need
a good level of fitness to manage the several river
crossing required to get there but the struggle is well
December 2019 27
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December 2019 29
CONFESSIONS OF A NOT SO
By Peter Laurenson
What defines a ‘professional’ photographer; and is computer-based
In this age of digital pixels and instantaneous social
media-based, often free-to-air, self publication it’s
never been harder to make a living from professional
photography. While I did start my own journey into
photography with some manual photography night
classes before I set off on my O.E back in 1988, that
hardly qualified me as a professional. Probably like
most photographers, I’m essentially self taught, both
in terms of taking pictures and, since the advent of
digital, post-processing them.
As the years have passed and my photographic
experience and knowledge have grown, I’ve
sometimes pondered what the gap is between
me and ‘real professionals’. Certainly, my gear has
never been top end. Today I own a Nikon D750.
It’s a beautiful camera, but still there are more
‘professional’ models within the Nikon stable, the
D850 and Z7 to name just two. While I’ve been able
to win photo competition awards, have had quite a
few of my images published in various publications
and sell some of my images in their own right and as
featured in calendars, I certainly don’t earn anywhere
near enough from my photography to make a viable
living. Perhaps that’s the only meaningful measure to
determine whether someone is ‘professional’ or not?
But it’s also worth considering reputable professional
photographic practises. Aside from using top-end
professional gear, other professional practises that come
to my mind include frequent use of a sturdy tripod (and
cable or wireless shutter release), use of fixed focal
length specialist lenses, use of filters, being very selective
about light conditions, shooting in manual mode, usually
using spot metering, rather than leaving some shooting
decisions to in-camera programming; and shooting
in Camera RAW mode, along with having the skills to
effectively process those files. I’m sure there are some
other practises I should list too – and if I was a ‘true
professional’ I’d know what they are!
Part of me would like to be recognised as a
professional photographer. Put that down to artistic
pride and ego mainly. Sure, more money would
be nice, but really it comes down to the extent
that others appreciate my work. Rightly or wrongly,
that does matter to me and being recognised as a
‘professional’ might be a nice manifestation of that
appreciation. But I’m sufficiently honest with myself to
know that I fall short against my list. Another interesting
self observation though, is that my shortfalls are mostly
by choice. I could actually adopt more professional
photographic practises more of the time, but I choose
not to. Why? In my case, because the sheer pleasure
I get from taking and processing photos in the way I
choose to overrides my ego frailties. Let me explain...
The origins of my photography lie in quite fast-paced,
constant backpacker travel through mostly developing
countries. In this mode, carrying a lot of camera gear is
a significant burden in terms of more than just weight.
The risk of theft increases. The degree of spontaneity
reduces. Consequently I mostly shot hand-held, relying
on a wide ranging zoom lens. Lazy I know, but I was able
to take a lot of interesting photos, many times where
I couldn’t have if I’d been more technically diligent.
It was an enthralling journey of discovery, where my
photography never became a travel burden.
My photography began before the digital age, but
while I was a manual mode photographer, I only ever
used colour print and slide film and never gained any
darkroom experience. Before pixels, with no back of
camera screens for instant feedback, I had to be on
top of my exposure settings, otherwise costs and/or
disappointments mounted up. But even then, handing
my film over to a lab sometimes ended in frustration.
Use of old chemicals could really mess things up. And
there was a big gap in my ability to enjoy complete
control of the end result. Back then I think professionals
were exerting more overall control on their end results
than me, either by processing their own black and
white film or working much more closely with only
selected top-end processing labs.
But then along came digital. According to Mr Google
the first DSLR was Minolta’s 1.75 megapixel RD-175 in
1995. Nikon’s 2.73 megapixel D1 followed in 1999 – the
first digital to be built from the ground up by a major
player. I bought my first DSLR in 2005 - a 6.1 megapixel
Nikon D70S, replacing my Nikon F801S film camera. I
really loved my F801S, but felt that digital technology
had progressed sufficiently for amateurs like me to get
on the bandwagon. Immediately I enjoyed the ability
to adjust ISO frame by frame if required - two main
exposure tools had just jumped from two to three.
Having instantaneous back-of-camera feedback was
also a big development, initially probably just making
me a bit lazier about exposure setting. Otherwise, I
continued to shoot pretty much as I had done with
my F801S. To begin with, I was oblivious to perhaps
the biggest game changer of all - while the D70S
could shoot in Camera RAW, I had no post-processing
knowledge and just stuck with jpegs.
Post-processing seeped into my photography skill
set over the next five or so years. In about 2010 I got
my first edition of Photoshop and since then, have
never looked back. Even then though, it took until mid
2014 for me to click on to the power and wonderful
freedom of RAW files. Finally I was starting to build
post-processing skills that approached what the
professionals were applying.
25.4x25.4mm MOS sensor
24-360 F8.8 lens
35.9x24mm CMOS sensor
24-120 flat F4 lens
These days, a lot of my photography occurs on
mountain slopes in places where a big heavy DSLR
tends to stay in my pack. Tramping and climbing have
largely replaced backpacker travel, but my need to
travel light and remain photographically spontaneous
and opportunistic remains the same. While I love using
my Nikon D750, I frequently use a mirrorless compact
camera (currently a Lumix TZ220) in the hills.
'Shadow and Light' is a stitched image, created from
8 hand-heldportrait shots, taken on my Lumix TZ220. It
is a dawn view of the top 600 metres of Mt Taranaki
(New Zealand), taken from the southern rim of
Fantham’s Peak. Syme Hut sits to the left of the summit
cone, which has projected a shadow out to the far
left. Mounts Tongariro, Ngauruhoe and Ruapehu are
SHADOW AND LIGHT
F8, 1/160s, ISO125, 24mm
December 2019 31
silhouetted on the right skyline. It was my fifth trip up
this route and the best light so far. I’ve printed this
image at 1.2m wide by 40cm high and, in terms of
colour and sharpness, it stands up very well.
Digitally enabled mirrorless technology has really
come of age. The amount of photographic power
that can be packed into a space the size of a
sardine can is quite astounding. While some may
deem my gear ‘amateurish’, when using my TZ220
I still shoot Camera RAW files using spot meter, with
manual settings. The TZ220’s three quarter sensor’s 20
megapixel files aren’t quite as nice as my D750’s full
fame 24 megapixel files, but they’re still pretty good –
easily sufficient for print publication. The TZ220’s built
in Leica optical zoom range is outrageous – 24mm
to 360mm. Of course, there’s no such thing as a free
lunch - the higher end of the zoom is not great, but
image sharpness is, for the most part, not an issue
and it being so tiny, there’s no need for a heavy-duty
More generally, whether I’m using my TZ220 or D750,
I use a tripod less than many professionals do. Good
hand-held technique and being able to dial up the
ISO enable this, especially with my D750, which is very
good in low light. As a consequence I am able to
capture a lot more action than some do and, when
with non-photographers, I tend to hold tramping
progress up less.
In my shot 'Autumn Reflection' which shows a small
lake between Cromwell and Clyde in Central
Otago, a tripod would have been impossible as I
was balanced on driftwood right on the shore line.
In post processing I used adjustment layering on
the foreground as a graduated filter to allow the
foreground detail and colour to come up, balancing
the top and bottom halves.
'Singapore Light Show' is another case in which I
didn't use a tripod. It shows (from left to right) the Helix
Bridge, Marina Bay Sands, the Art Science Museum,
and Marina Bay. When I took it, I was on my way back
to the hotel with my family after dinner and had no
time to set up a tripod. But because the D750 is so
good in low light at higher ISO settings, I was able to
take this hand held stitch of 2 landscape shots.
However, when I want to catch water movement
such as in my shot 'Bridal Veil' a tripod is usually
essential. This shot was taken on my Nikon D750 and
shows the view at dawn from Tunnel View (1,400m)
looking east to Bridal Veil Fall.
BRIDAL VEIL FALL
YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK, USA
F22, 5s, ISO100, 174mm
F16, 1/60s, ISO100, 24mm
SINGAPORE LIGHT SHOW
F5, 1/20s, ISO1000, 24mm
December 2019 33
I shoot a lot of panoramic series that I stitch together
in Photoshop later. I often find that a standard
landscape or portrait format is too limiting when trying
to capture the vast magnificence of our natural
world. Stitching also brings the advantage of creating
bigger files that can be printed larger or more freely
cropped. Stitched panoramas don’t have to be
restricted to grand horizontal landscapes either.
Vertical pans enable me to capture wider angled
images than a single wide angle shot can. I’ve got
some really interesting results in human-made and
urban settings too, although subject movement, hard
angles and straight lines can present challenges.
There is certainly an art to getting the most from a
stitched series. It adds another whole dimension to my
photography which I love.
Aside from a ubiquitous UV filter (for lens protection)
I don’t use lens filters. I’ve tried them and hence
understand their capabilities, but I find using
adjustment layering in Photoshop to be more versatile
than any set of filters. Is this cheating? One method
uses glass on the end of the camera while the other
achieves the same or perhaps better results on
screen. Both options are forms of image manipulation.
My view is that it’s the end result that counts and using
either method requires skill and artistic judgement.
When considering the validity of post-processing
techniques, here’s a useful analogy from the alpine
world. Although crampons, as a highly energy efficient
alternative to cutting steps, had been in use in the
European Alps well before the end of the nineteenth
century, it wasn’t until after WWI that they started
to be accepted by most serious climbers in New
Zealand. Until then ‘old-school’ and ‘purist’ climbers
deemed the use of crampons to be unsporting and
cheating. Today, in the photographic world, some
(probably more novices than professionals) still apply
this sentiment to post-processing. I’m the first to
concede that 21 st Century computer-enabled postprocessing
makes it easier to create really stunning
images. But let’s not forget that the professionals were
post-processing long before the digital age – it’s just
that darkrooms have been replaced by computers.
Yes, I think computer-based post-processing is much
more accessible (and versatile) than dark room or lab
post-processing was, but to do computer-based postprocessing
well still demands a very wide range of
technical and artistic skills and judgement.
The photo 'Incoming' is a stitch of 2 landscape shots
taken on my Nikon P7800. It shows me sheltering from
snow squalls at about 2,000m on Mount Taranaki with
two of my sons. Those crampons came in handy that
day! I couldn’t have taken this image in one wide
angle frame as I was too close to my own feet but
stitching 2 made it possible.
Today the preferred base image file format for
professionals is RAW. In its unprocessed state a
RAW file is dull and flat, but once you open it in
Camera RAW, a whole world of artistic potential is
released. Of course, if you want to create images of
a ‘professional’ standard, then once you’ve chosen
your subject, getting things right in camera is still
crucial. But today more than ever, that is just the
first step. Digitisation in photography has introduced
a new and sometimes alternative set of tools and
techniques open to photographers. And because
of that, in my perhaps ‘not so professional’ opinion,
photography today has never been more enriching.
F5, 1/1250, ISO100, 28mm
December 2019 35
F11, 1/800s, ISO200
By Ann Wheatley
Ilive in Nelson, at the top of the South Island, Te
Waipounamu, a region blessed with beautiful places.
To the east, we have the Marlborough Sounds, ancient
sunken river valleys now filled with the waters of the
Pacific Ocean. Golden Bay lies to the north; a paradise
of pristine beaches, rugged mountains, and scenic river
valleys. To the west stretches a wildly beautiful coastline
and the huge Kahurangi wilderness. The snow-capped
spine of the Southern Alps divides Te Waipounamu into
a huge diversity of landscapes, including ten of New
Zealand’s fourteen national parks. There’s a lot of space
and beauty to contemplate.
While I often photograph landscapes, I wouldn’t call
myself a landscape photographer. Masters like Adris
Apse set the bar too high, spending days or even
months waiting for the right moment to realise an idea
imagined in the mind’s eye. I make pictures to honour
visual experiences of personal significance. A particular
angle, play of light or juxtaposition of objects reveals
something previously hidden, or something that feels
mysterious, surreal, whimsical or magical, and I’m
moved to raise the camera to my eye. Other times
I make a photograph because the subject arouses
strong emotion or tickles my curiosity. I may itch to know
its origin or history, and post-processing then includes
research to learn as much as I can. Magic, mystery,
wonder and awe are everywhere, if you slow down,
take the time to be present, and to look deeply.
As someone who started with an Olympus OM1 in
1977 and switched to digital in 2009, I can’t help but
notice huge changes in every aspect of photography.
With affordable, high quality digital cameras now so
widely available, almost everyone makes pictures. This,
more than anything else, has transformed the world of
photography in ways that were once unimaginable.
In the past, professional nature and landscape
photographers were a small tight-knit community.
Novice photographers would typically spend time with
someone they knew to learn the art and the craft.
Mentors would also pass on the ethics of stewardship
and a deep respect for nature, but with the advent
of phone cameras, social media and the sharing of
GPS coordinates, mentoring is becoming much less
common. Nowadays, technology places decent quality
photographs within reach for many more people. We
can look up a location online, find it using GPS, and visit
without learning anything about the fragility of the area,
why it’s special and unique, or how to protect it.
Huge numbers of people now flock to some locations
popularised through social media. Visitor numbers to
Aoraki/Mt. Cook, New Zealand’s highest peak, rose 11%
in the past year, reaching one million for the first time.
Visitors to the Blue Pools in Mt. Aspiring National Park
skyrocketed from 3,400 to more than 100,000 in just three
years. In an interview with the BBC, a spokesperson from
the Department of Conservation revealed that visitor
numbers to Roy’s Peak had increased by 12% to 73,000
between 2016 and 2018, because the spot had become
a “quintessential icon for the Wanaka region through
social media.” The #royspeak hashtag on Instagram had
just over 56,000 images in August 2019 and just under
58,000 by November.
Around the world, some sensitive locations are suffering
damage from the sheer number of visitors, but also
from the behaviour of people who’ll do anything to
get “the” shot to post on social media. They trespass,
ignore regulations, trample vegetation, create new trails,
compact fragile soils and harass wildlife. In cities and
towns, cultural locations are suffering similar fates.
Many of the pictures and posts on social media are
mindful, but others feel like a visual bomb, all about “me,
me, me.” More than a few people need to show off their
travel images to feel important, to fit in, or as a symbol
of status. This continues unabated, despite ongoing
revelations about depression and anxiety caused by
unhealthy social media use.
Internationally, photography collectives, indigenous
groups, governments and the private sector have
launched campaigns to educate people about the
downside of the photography/social media/tourism
nexus and to recommend appropriate behaviours. In
New Zealand the Tiaki Promise is a wonderful example.
Tiaki is a powerful Māori word, meaning to care and
protect, to look after people and place. The Tiaki Promise
is a commitment to care for New Zealand and is meant
to instill a sense of responsibility and a commitment by
international and domestic tourists to good behaviour.
Another example, initiated by photographers for
photographers, is the Nature First Alliance started by the
Nature Photographer’s Network. The Alliance reminds
us that historically, photography has been a vital tool in
environmental protection across the world – promoting
the conservation of wild places and encouraging
positive stewardship practices – leaving a legacy that
makes it possible for photographers today, and many
others, to enjoy protected wild places.
With the rise of social media making it so easy to
share photos and location information; the increased
popularity of photography; the steep increase in
visits to public lands and wild places; and the lack of
widespread knowledge of basic stewardship practices
and outdoor ethics, the Alliance is concerned that
visitors, including photographers, are causing worsening
negative impacts on nature. While these developments
may seem separate from photography, many pressures
on wild lands stem from people being drawn to them
because of inspiring photographs and cinematography.
While most photographers haven’t intentionally
contributed to negative impacts, they urge each of us to
acknowledge our potential contribution to these issues,
and to take responsibility for solving them in a positive
DRESSED IN A BRYOPHYTE COAT
FENIAN TRACK, KAHURANGI
F2.8, 1/125s, ISO500
December 2019 37
THE ALLIANCE PROMOTES SEVEN NATURE FIRST
• Prioritize the well-being of nature over photography
• Educate yourself about the places you photograph
• Reflect on the possible impact of your actions
• Use discretion if sharing locations
• Know and follow rules and regulations
• Follow Leave No Trace principles and strive to leave
places better than you found them
• Actively promote and educate others about these
The principles are relevant not just for professional
nature and landscape photographers, but for
amateurs and tourists. Replace the word “nature” in
the first one with “cultural treasures,” and they apply
just as well to photography in cities and towns.
Since discovering Nature First I’ve changed my own
practices and adopted some new ones. Rather
than providing geographical information I prefer
non-specific tags like New Zealand, Aotearoa,
South Island (Te Waipounamou), or district names.
I leave comments acknowledging and thanking
photographers who decline requests to provide
geographical information for sensitive locations.
Sometimes I ask people why they’re revealing the
location of “beauty spots” that used to be known
only to locals. I’m finding ways to promote the Nature
CLOUDS AND TUSSOCKS
HAKATERE CONSERVATION PARK
F11, 1/150s, ISO200
First principles on Instagram through my personal
page and another I curate called @top.of.the.south.
With Portuguese photographer Hugo Pinho, I coauthored
an article on the growing harm to cultural
and natural treasures occurring around the world
and our responsibility as photographers to work for
change. Our story, Imitation and Its Consequences,
appeared in a recent issue of Olympus Passion
Magazine. Hugo proposes a wonderful challenge
for each of us: to draw on our unique creative spirit
rather than just imitating images of iconic places. He
reminds us to nourish that spirit not just by consuming
images made by others, but by allowing our spirit to
drink from other influences: our personality, family,
culture, traditions, and art in all its forms.
Be inspired to practice photography thoughtfully
and mindfully, in a way that does no harm to our
irreplaceable natural and cultural heritage. And
that’s just the minimum. Get inspired and find your
own personal way to help protect and conserve our
December 2019 39
A Photo Journey That Leads To
The Celebration of Wellington
By Philip Banks
F5.6, 30s, ISO6400, 17mm
My journey with photography began with an
Olympus Superzoom 110, a film point and
shoot camera. Being a student meant that
I couldn’t afford to process much film so it
got used mostly as a holiday snapper. That
was until a friend and I ill-advisedly tried canoeing on the
River Avon and managed to drown ourselves and the
camera. That incident led me to purchase an Olympus
Superzoom 120 which got some use but things went
quiet for some years as studying and then entering the
workforce took priority.
I did get a Canon EOS500 camera but again, the cost of
film meant I dabbled for a long time. It wasn’t until digital
cameras came down in price and the feedback loop for
shooting, evaluating and then adjusting how you shoot
was nice and short that I really made a lot of progress
with my photography.
Film was good for teaching me to take the time to think
about the shot, composing a scene before clicking the
shutter but that is only the start of the process – learning
how to use RAW format shooting and then the right
software to manipulate the image is where things began
to really take off for me.
I wouldn’t say I have a preferred genre, I end up
doing quite a few landscape and architecture shots
interspersed with wildlife – Zealandia with a 150–600mm
lens is a favourite spot. The camera ends up being a
great excuse to travel and see chunks of the countryside
but I am an engineer by trade so I quite enjoy getting
into the technical side where I can so I end up dabbling
in things like astrophotography, shooting fireworks, and
working on various pet projects.
One long term project I’m working on is to recreate
Pink Floyd’s ‘Dark Side of the Moon’ album cover as a
practical shot. I have tried various experiments using
prisms and different forms of lighting to try and achieve
that and have come close but not quite got it to where
I want it to be.
I do enjoy setting myself challenges such as trying to
create an album cover for a favourite artist/song or
submitting photos to a competition with a particular
theme to see if I can visually interpret it in a different
way. In fact, one of my most prominent images came
out of an informal competition based on the theme
of contrasts. It can be a bit hit and miss as what you
consider obvious in an image can quite often be subtle
to others, that is where I find being active in various
I used to be a member of the Wellington Photographic
Society but had to stop that when I needed to move to
Auckland for a few years. Once I was back in Wellington I
found that the social landscape had changed a bit
and meetups were more my speed. So I’ve been out
pretty regularly for the photo-walks with the Wellington
Photography Meetup Group which is run by New
Zealand Photography Workshops together with the Excio
Photo Community. I’ve also joined a more casual Coffee
and Photography group known as CAPES and attend
the more focused Coach with the Camera group. It has
been a good boost because each group provides a
different approach to photography as well as getting
that regularity going.
For me, photography is often an intensely singular activity –
a lot of it is about capturing a scene in your own unique
style. But doing that in a group provides a good way to
see how others are interpreting the same thing and also
share techniques and ideas. Often someone will be trying
a camera technique for fun – like rotating and zooming
during the exposure to see what effect they get. It is a
great way to spark creativity and each group usually brings
something different. The Coach with a Camera group, for
instance, is much more focused around doing something
with the images created and less about the taking of them
directly. It has been that group which has given me the
motivation to put on an exhibition.
Titled ‘The Celebration of Wellington’, my exhibition has a
fairly loose theme – mostly an exploration of the Wellington
region to try and give people an appreciation for the
varied and beautiful environment we live in so the focus is
fairly heavily towards landscapes with a few exceptions.
My aim isn’t to sell anything, I want to do this more as a
community activity of sharing some beautiful images
and hopefully making people aware of some things they
may not have seen. It doesn’t hurt that it is on in the rush
up to Christmas to provide a bit of an antidote to all that
busyness that is the norm for the holiday season!
THE CELEBRATION OF WELLINGTON EXHIBITION
9 TH ‐20 TH DECEMBER – 8.30AM‐6PM MON-FRI, 9AM‐5PM SATURDAY.
LEVEL 1, AA CENTRE, 342 LAMBTON QUAY, WELLINGTON
Submit your long exposure photos by 10 January 2020
to be in to win an Unleashed smart camera control
plus other great prizes.
How much do you dare to expose?
Check Out Now
Wellington Heritage Photo Quest
The architecture of any city is a reflection of its history
and in the case of Wellington we can look back
over the last 150 years. You can find examples
of almost every architectural style – from wooden
structures to ArtDeco with Chicago-influenced industrial
high-rise buildings in the CBD. From modern buildings
to historical remnants of what were once beautiful
facades, Wellington provides a great number of photo
opportunities for those who love to try their hand at
architectural and urban photography.
There are still many places around the city that have
survived from the early days of its settlement by the
Europeans. Many of the building may at first glance
seem ordinary but if you do some research and explore
a bit more you will soon see the layers of history revealing
themselves. In fact, some buildings may only be fully
appreciated when they are considered in the context
of the era they were built in. Think about some of the
buildings that we see every day on our way to/from
work, more than 600 times a year, that we never have
enough time to pay attention to, these very buildings
may have represented a revolutionary shift in design
and architecture 50 or 100 years ago. Changes in
architectural style always reflect the development of the
nation and with the help of photographs we take today,
our descendants 100 years into the future will be able to
see what ‘modern’ Wellington looked like back in the
By capturing buildings and architecture we create history
– what stands there right now may not exist tomorrow. As
photographers who care about #PhotographyForGood
we need to make sure that the generations after us can
appreciate and enjoy what we see today even if it is no
longer standing in the future. Cities are always in a state
of continuous transition and transformation. Think of any
place you visited a few years ago, if you go back there
in 10 or 20 years you may not recognise the look of it.
The power of photography is that it not only freezes
the moment but it shows the ‘collective’ view of
photographers. Last month more than 50 photographers
took part in the Heritage Photo Quest organized by
the Excio photo community. Photographers were
encouraged to capture the most interesting buildings
and learn more about the history of Wellington city.
On the following pages, you will see many different
perspectives from some of the photographers who
took part. It is always amazing to be able to see after a
photo walk what other photographers have captured.
Photographers see things differently and that’s great –
see for yourself different reflections, long exposures, and
the perspectives and angles captured by creative and
talented Wellington photographers.
To find out more information or take a walk along our
heritage trail at your own pace visit www.excio.io/
December 2019 45
December 2019 47
December 2019 49
What’s The Most Important Thing
By Ana Lyubich
Lets’ think, what answers jump into your mind?
You might be thinking that the most important thing
in photography is to have a really good camera.
How else do you get that perfect shot if you don’t
have the right gear? But wait, what about those
slightly out of focus shots or the ones with lots of
noise that captured that perfect moment, that
smile? Ok, so it’s not about the gear.
In that case the most important thing in
photography must be composition? The rule of
thirds, having a straight horizon, and the lines,
light, shadows being perfectly presented. If that’s
the answer does it mean we then say that there is
nothing important in creative shots? So no, it can’t
be about the composition.
Third time lucky – the most important thing in
photography must be about planning the shot!
Mastering it in-camera so then you don’t need
to do any post-processing later. No but wait, you
can’t plan street photography, you can’t plan that
split second, the look in someone’s eyes. Planning
your photo session is a sign of good discipline and
will definitely lead to success but photography is
about being in the right place at the right time and
having your finger on the shutter release ready to
capture the moment so that’s not the answer.
What about colour? Black and white? Could that
be the most important thing in photography? There
is definitely a lot to learn about light and shadows
and it takes a lot of time and practice to know
how to shoot in different lighting conditions but
sometimes the images that were shot against the
light, that are faded away, are the ones that most
often touch our souls.
Ok, so it absolutely has to be about gaining
experience – the more you practice the more you
know and can master your skills. Right? I would
agree with just one exclusion – why, when out of
millions of people who have dedicated their lives
to photography and have years and years of
practice, do we only know a few names? Is it about
popularity? Talent? Connections? Networks?
Let me stop playing this guessing game with you
and put you out of your misery.
To me, the most important thing in photography is
the magic. It is a combination of some of the things
mentioned above that enables you to capture
moments so that years later (if those moments are
still important to you) you can easily travel back in
Don’t make photography the sole purpose of an
experience. Don’t spend hours overthinking the
composition - it doesn’t matter in the end. What
matters is being able to fast forward a few years,
and have your photos take you back to that
moment in time when you pressed the shutter
button so that you can re-live the experience.
Photography must be something bigger than
having that perfectly exposed shot. It must be able
to bring back the atmosphere of that moment, the
people around you, the smells, your thoughts and
feelings at that exact point in time. Without that
your photographs won’t do their magic and won’t
work as time machines. They will be just ‘prints for
sale’ and silent reminders of you missing being in
Every time I look at my photos I instantly find myself
exactly in that moment be it at Washington railway
station or Chengdu panda reserve. Just by looking
at those photos the conversations, laughter,
feelings and everything associated with every trip
and occasion comes back to life. When I look at
the photos from my Denmark trip this time last year,
my fingers start freezing again and I remember
the smell of cinnamon and the sound of Christmas
music in the fairy-tale-like Tivoli gardens. Which of
your images bring back memories and emotions
Many of you will be travelling over the Christmas
period and while I of course look forward to seeing
what you capture over the holidays, always
remember to bring back experiences, not polished
December 2019 51
A Mirror View
by Brendon Gilchrist
Lake Matheson is the most photogenic
lake on the West Coast of New Zealand
and draws in thousands of tourists every
year but few think about the 14,000 year
old history as they take their photos and
admire the view. You see, Lake Matheson
started out as a river of ice formed from
a large Glacier called Fox. When glaciers
retreat they change the landscape, moving
huge boulders and creating depressions in
the land which then creates lakes giving us
delights such as this.
There are a few vantage points to view the
mountains over Lake Matheson but only one
place gives that iconic picture postcard view
that you must have in your collection of images.
Thankfully, I arrived at Lake Matheson a day
ahead of schedule so that I could scout out
where I needed to be to get the famous
shot. I was shooting a time-lapse at one of
the viewpoints in what I thought was the right
place but I soon realised Aoraki didn’t seem
to be quite where I thought it should be.
I waited for the time-lapse to finish as it was
still looking really good and then packed up
to see if I could capture Aoraki in the correct
It was getting a little dark but I had my head
torch and the track was easy enough to
follow, so I headed off around the lake.
I found a place called The Views Of Views
which, to be fair, had a nice view but it was
not the view of the view that I wanted to
F10, 1/200s, ISO100
F10, 1/200s, ISO100
view!! I carried on and found a signpost that
said Reflection Island.
I walked down some steps to get almost to
lake level and looked towards Aoraki – Yes,
this was the view I came for! Now I knew
exactly where I’d be heading for sunrise
but I still didn’t know where I’d be spending
the night – Grateful for phone signal I gave
Backpackers a call and got myself a bed.
Now safe in the knowledge that I had
somewhere to sleep, I continued shooting
as I still hadn’t captured the shot nor the
time lapses I wanted. I was getting hopeful
for my sunrise shoot though, the weather
was looking really good and there was
snow down quite low on the mountains so
I would be able to get my Winter shot of Lake
Matheson with reflections.
Deciding that the cloud around the
mountains was too much now, I decided to
pack up – I was getting tired and still had a
30 minute walk to the car, then a short 10
minute drive to Fox Glacier township.
Next morning, when it was still dark out and
everyone else in the dorm was still asleep, I was
waking up. Having already pre-packed the night
before I slipped out of the dorm as quietly as
possible and dropped my key off. Walking outside
it was chilly with ice on the parked vehicles so I lost
5 minutes defrosting my car which wasn’t part of
my early morning plan but I was soon off, driving
towards the lake and then parking up, gathering
my camera gear for the 30 minute walk.
There was a slight glow on the hills when
I started walking which made me walk
that bit faster, not wanting to miss out on
my much-hoped-for postcard shot. As I
kept walking around the lake to Reflection
Island I caught a glimpse of the water
showing a crystal clear reflection. That
made me excited as there was lots of
low cloud hanging around the lake and
December 2019 53
the mountains – My postcard shot of Lake
Matheson was in reach!
Reaching the turn off for Reflection Island
and walking down what seemed like a cloud
onto the platform just above the lake, my first
thought was ‘wow, I have this view to myself,
I am beyond blessed’. With clouds in every
layer, the steam rising off the lake due to
the sun hitting it, clouds above Mount Cook,
clouds creating an unreal atmosphere around
the mountains, and snow well below the bushline
I was wondering ‘Is this place even real?’.
It was mid-week, not the weekend so I was
hopeful that not too many other people
would turn up as I needed to use the fence
post to rest my camera on for the time-lapse
as I only had one tripod to use (my second
one broke) and I needed that for the stills.
I put my go-to 14–24mm lens on and took
a few shots at 14mm and then 24mm but
neither composition looked good. I only
had one other lens to turn to, my big 80–
200mm zoom, my 50mm being used for the
time-lapse on my other camera. Turning
the camera back on I knew I’d found the
composition I was looking for, even though
the lake is known for its reflection, the
superimposed mountains at 80mm were
looking insanely beautiful.
As the sun kept rising and the clouds kept
moving, the light hitting the clouds and the
mountains, the trees aglow, the ducks and
other birds waking up for the day, the scene
was blowing my mind – I could not have
asked for anything better.
I took around 1000 images at Lake Matheson
that morning, most of those being time lapses,
but the number doesn’t matter – I got the shots
I wanted and am ecstatic that I captured
something unique to this lake and something
I said a few years ago that I would never do;
shoot what everyone else is shooting.
My postcard images of Matheson are now in
my collection and show not just one average
shot of a perfect reflection but tell a story,
not just my story, but of a morning that was
just meant to be – a perfect morning.
I still look at my reflection image for
inspiration, reminding myself that no
reflection is perfect, that there is always a
F11, 1/125s, ISO100
THE GALLERY IS PROUDLY SUPPORTED BY
BEST READERS' SUBMISSIONS THIS MONTH
December 2019 55
F11, 1/100s, ISO200, 67mm
On my trip up Stoos with the worlds steepest
funicular railway in Switzerland, I saw the
beautiful mountain panorama, the Mythen.
December 2019 57
TREE OF LIFE - SAMOA
F3.7, 1/200s, ISO125
The Samoans call the coconut tree, the Tree of
Life. Almost all parts of a coconut tree can be
used. Taken near where a devastating tsunami
washed into Samoa a few years ago on a
Samsung 6 Galaxy phone.
December 2019 59
F9, 1/320s, 35mm
Seeking directions, or maybe just having a chat,
with the helpful information ladies, near Flinders
Street Station, Melbourne.
December 2019 61
F5.6, 1/2500s, ISO640, 20mm
Photo taken at Craters of the Moon in Taupo.
It's amazing how plants can survive this kind of
soil temperature. Truly one of New Zealand's
December 2019 63
It is sometimes difficult to find a perfect place to
photograph moving traffic. When I saw this area while
visiting Maryland in the USA I knew I could get the shot.
December 2019 65
F3.7, 1/200s, ISO125
GLACIER BAY, ALASKA
Where the glacier meets the sea.
December 2019 67
"A STORY TO TELL"
F9, 1/125s, ISO200
This photograph was taken in a small village
near the town of Konya in Turkey. The people in
the area live as best they can from the land with
sheep and other animals.
December 2019 69
Taken on the colourful island of Burano, Venice.
December 2019 71
STREET MUSICIAN, PARIS
F3.7, 1/200s, ISO125
This musician was one of many performing at a
busy morning market in Paris.
December 2019 73
F8, .6s, ISO100
Cathedral Cove in the Coromandel is an iconic
destination for overseas visitors to New Zealand.
The perfect scenario for this shot was sunrise to
capture the light reflection on the rocks and the
early morning low tide to wash the multitude of
footprints from the previous day away.
It was a 5am start for the hour walk to get to the
location. My hope was to have the place to
myself as by 7am the water taxi's begin arriving.
December 2019 75
Okere Falls in Rotorua has the most thrilling white
water rafting with the highest 7m Tutea Falls as
the highlight. If you are a thrill seeker this should
be on your bucket list.
December 2019 77
COLOURS OF INDIA
Walking through the Red Fort in Delhi one is
constantly impressed by the vivid colours. This
image portrays one of the many women who
spend their day at the site in the hope of getting
a few coins from passing travellers who are in
awe of their elegance and charm. I was careful
to select a background that would speak of the
environment and complement the colours.
December 2019 79
GOA FISH MARKET
F8, 1/125s, ISO12800
The Goa market is a dark congested space, an
amazing sensory experience. The colours and
contrasts make it difficult to capture the characters
who make it so interesting. I was determined to
keep my images sharp so I hiked the ISO up.
December 2019 81
It was supposed to be spring, but on this
particular day a frosty sleet had little respect for
the calendar in Saint Petersburg, Russia.
December 2019 83
1600 METRES UP
F11, ISO200, 18mm
Travel is awesome experiences such as Gunnar
taking us to the summit of Eyjafjallajökull in Iceland
in his ‘truck’. It was a beautiful sunny spring day and
even at 1600 metres was quite warm (for Iceland).
The two people in the distance gives some idea as
to the expanse of the summit.
December 2019 85
HUNT FOR THE
F11, 1/1000s, ISO200, 300mm
On safari in Botswana during a dust storm, these
animal silhouettes drew my attention.
December 2019 87
ONWARDS AND UPWARDS
Ski touring in the Two Thumb Range in Southern Alps of New
Zealand is a great way to get away from it all. On this trip we
started the journey actually carrying our skis until we hit the
snow and then it was a steady upward climb.
Sarah K Smith
December 2019 89
F3.5, 1/400s, ISO100, 18mm
A cruise ship leaving Tauranga Harbour. It
almost seems impossible that there is enough
water between the Mount and Matakana Island
in the background.
December 2019 91
"THE ONLY THINGS I OWN WHICH
ARE STILL WORTH WHAT THEY
HAVE COST ME ARE MY TRAVEL
MEMORIES.... THE MIND-PICTURES
OF PLACES WHICH I HAVE BEEN
HOARDING LIKE A HAPPY MISER."