NZPhotographer Issue 27, January 2020


Whether you’re an enthusiastic weekend snapper or a beginner who wants to learn more about photography, New Zealand Photographer is the fun e-magazine for all Kiwi camera owners.


F11, 6s, ISO64

determine what other parts of the landscape will add to

the picture, and what will only be a distraction.

While teaching on workshops, when I ask a student what

they are photographing I will often get a reply like “that

interesting little rock on the side of the lake” – the rock

they are standing 10 meters away from with an ultra-wideangle

lens on their camera. While that rock is a great

subject, it will be lost in their final photograph, due to their

current composition. With their distance from the rock and

lens choice, the rock might only represent about 5% of the

image area in the photograph. Therefore, it’s important to

decide what our subject is before we set up our tripod, this

will then inform our decisions of which lens is best to use

and where best to capture the subject from.

If they had started with deciding this rock was to be

the main subject of their photograph, they could have

moved closer to it, made it larger and more defined within

the surrounding landscape. Or they could have selected

a longer telephoto lens to zoom in on the rock and isolate

it from the rest of the landscape. Both of those choices

would allow it to be a more significant part of the end

photograph and define it as a subject to the viewer.

Hopefully, the subject, (“what I am photographing?”)

in the pictures with this article, are clear. For the image

looking out across lake Ohau, it is the foreground rock

on the side of the lake, I framed this with the distant

mountains and soft light behind. The photograph looking

up the Tasman River at Mt Cook is about the lovely texture

of the frost-covered tussock against the soft swirl of the

river pool. I framed Mt Cook in the background, but this

is to give a sense of location, not as the subject of the


So the next time I am out photographing a beautiful

sunset at one of my favourite landscapes, will I be any

less annoyed when a passer-by stops to ask “what are

you photographing?” Probably not! If I replied to them

that I am photographing this little rock on the side of the

lake, instead of this beautiful landscape, do you think they

would be less disappointed with my answer? Probably

not! They might even reply with; I thought you might have

been photographing the sunset!

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