Ladder 001. A nor’west evening on Godley head, Christchurch
A new project. About ladders. Why? Because I can carry them to interesting places and they look cool. Can I avoid cliches? I’ve started small, a stepladder, $45 from trademe. When I’m feeling really bold I’ll try a big ladder.
I do like projects. Some sort of limits to get the creative juices flowing. A whiteboard, a notebook, and Evernote to make some plans. Then it’s down to ‘F8 and be there’. For younger readers, that was a generally accepted modus operandi for succesful photography back in the day.
Last week I had the pleasure of spending a half day on the Hororata farm of Mike and Karen Groters. The occasion was an assignment to gather some imagery for a profile the farming advertising agency Tracta are doing on famers using the fertiliser Hatuma Dicalcic Phosphate. The Hatuma rep Nigel Wilson did a great job interviewing Mike and Karen for the video being shot at the same time by videographer Michael Bolch from Imagic. Although not used to being in front of the camera, Mike was very obliging as we had him act out various scenarios for the photography. It was helpful having Nigel distract him with conversation to make the shots more spontaneous and natural. I stayed on for a while after the scheduled shoot to wait for the light to improve for some of the supporting landscape shots, such as the one above.
I am still experimenting with virtual tours, here is a simple one from Serra San Quirico, a small village in the Marche region of Italy. It makes good use of sound, though I was hoping to include more video in it as well. Still working on that, as it’s proving to be a challenge. That’s young Tom Winter tinkling on the ancient organ. If you follow the sound trail to the organ inside, you can click on a video of Tom playing. The custodian was kind enough to let him have a play while I was photographing. Click on the full screen button for the best experience (4th button from the left).
While in Italy during January 2014 I followed and recorded the folk music tradition ‘Pasquella di Natale’, held every year in a small village in the Marche region called Montecarotto. Here is the end result. It was a lot of fun following the musicians around and interviewing Carlo and Anna Carotti for some history of the event. It was also good practice juggling video, sound and stills and trying to keep one step ahead of the action.
The festival starts in the morning around 8.30 am as musicians and groups gather in the central piazza. Old friends are re-aquainted and band members gradually form their groups. From here they disperse to all corners of the village and start heading up back up to the central piazza, stopping to sing outside houses as they go and collecting offerings. By early afternoon they have all returned to the piazza and often a big jam session gets underway. The last event of the day is a concert in the beautifully restored theatre, which is also in the central piazza.
Below is a gallery of images gleaned from a few years of observing the festival.
During August I was lucky enough to visit Lake Greaney for a second time. The first time was in 2011 and I took only stills. How times have changed. This time I recorded stills, 360 degree panoramas, time-lapse photography and even a little video and sound. Of course the downside of this is trying to carry 30+ kg up the aptly named Thirsty Ridge for four and a half hours. Thanks to friend Tim Mundy who came to the rescue and carried the heavy pack for the last hour. Thanks Tim! I owe you a canvas print. Tim was up there to hunt the tops and managed to get a chamois and have a good look around.
Timelapse setup with Syrp Genie and Revolve rails at Lake Greaney hut
On our last night there, I noticed some colouring in the sky to the south on the back of the camera, and realised there was an aurora event on. Unfortunately I was almost out of battery power and didn’t run the camera for the whole night. Live and learn. In hindsight I could have juggled half-charged batteries for a while. You can see the aurora in the last frames of the video above.
The area we were in, the northern tip of the Haast Range, is a kiwi sanctuary. The Haast Tokoeka Sanctuary covers at least 85% of the area where Haast tokoeka (kiwi) are known to live. There is extensive trapping in the area and it seems to be working. Although we didn’t see any kiwi, possibly wintering in the bush below, we did see rock wren, falcon, kaka, tui and pipit.
Timelapse setup above Lake Greaney with Syrp Genie
Many thanks to DOC for the use of their shelters. It would have been pretty chilly without them!
The Virtual Tour below may be a little squished – make sure you click the full screen button at the bottom.
A couple of weeks back I accompanied the guys from M3 Creative on a one day video shoot for Westand Milk Products. My job was to set up and gather portrait stills. Organization and art direction were provided by the very capable team from Q Brand Agency.
The main two challenges were the time of year and working around the video crew so as not to hinder what they needed to accomplish. Winter weather not only gives fewer daylight hours but can throw a few curve balls. Our particular curve ball on the day was a heavy frost which covered the normally lush green pastures in a layer of white. Fortunately the sun stayed out and we could start the portraits in earnest by 10 am. By then I had scouted the locations and lined up the most suitable areas. The video crew of Craig Forster & Mark Marchand were great to work with and it was not difficult to work around them to get what I needed.
Thanks to Robert Jamieson from Q Brand Agency for excellent art direction as usual, and to my wife Jacqui for being the charming assistant on the day.
Last December I spent a few days around Mount Cook collecting stock photography and experimenting with time-lapse photography. It certainly helped that I knew the locations and the area well, because carrying two cameras and tripods slowed me down a bit. Finding time to sleep was also challenging. When the weather is obliging, time-lapse photography is effective any time of the night or day, and sleep doesn’t seem so important when the weather is putting on a great show.
Processing done in Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop, Timelapse video processed in LRTimelapse and Premiere Pro.
I’ve recently purchased a slider (dolly) which will add interesting camera movements – and weight to carry unfortunately.
I’ve just completed a virtual tour of the Christchurch Airport airbridge murals I have photographed over the last few years. Make sure you try the full screen option on the tour above!
Virtual tours are a great use of photography and something I plan to do a lot more of over the next year. I have been putting together 360 degree panoramas for years so it makes sense to add the virtual tours as a service. The ability to incorporate video, stills, sounds and interactive elements in a virtual tour is exciting.
I have put a considerable amount of time into researching the best software solutions for producing these tours and ensuring they are user friendly and play on nearly all devices.
I am currently working on a separate portfolio website to market the virtual tours, along with some virtual tours of the new artworks around Christchurch.
Jacqui and I rented a campervan recently for a short tour around Northland. As a photography vehicle, I’ve always been a bit wary of campervans, thinking it would be a bit tricky getting down some of the gravel roads I like to explore. As it turned out, it was great for this trip. Fully catered evening and morning photo shoots, plenty of room for gear. There is a lot to like. I wanted to get up on that high roof but the $7500 insurance excess put me off that. There weren’t any gravel roads that needed driving down and I backpacked along a few trails and up a few hills. It was a really relaxing way to have a holiday/photo trip.
We had seven nights and decided to spend a minumum of 2 nights at each stop, so we’d have time to revisit locations in different light. On the advice of some Auckland friends we chose Mangawhai Heads, Tutukaka, and the Karikari Peninsula. A small part of Northland I know, but better to see a small area well than tick off destinations. We chose to stay in commercial campgrounds rather than freedom camp, not for ethical reasons but because it was easier and campgrounds were quiet at this time of year.
I took more gear with me than I used, mainly because I’m experimenting with time-lapse and video. I found that it was tricky to do both time-lapse/video AND stills well, so after the first afternoon at Duder Regional Park in Auckland I just concentrated on stills.
I did manage to get this little time-lapse experiment in though…
Last month I completed photography of the new Trimble New Zealand building. It is an impressive structure and many of its design features are clearly born of the recent earthquakes. Incorporated into the design are three damage-avoidance technologies, developed jointly by the University of Canterbury and the Structural Timber Innovation Company.
What I found interesting was the artful way these technologies are incorporated into the visual design of the interior. Little glass windows give views of large steel bolts. Large laminated timber walls and supports are visible throughout the building.
Creative Spaces, who were responsible for the interior design, did a great job of blending in navigation features (Trimble is predominantly a navigation technology company), and local geography. Scattered throughout the interior are large GPS location numbers running from floor to ceiling on walls and timber support beams. The lined carpet design is a reference to navigation and it also features occasional squares and triangles. Various meeting rooms are named after local landmarks and feature window graphics of native flora and fauna, braided rivers and mountains.
John Doogan is an award-winning landscape and commercial photographer based in Christchurch, New Zealand. Services include: rights-managed stock photography | fine art prints | commercial and advertising photography | workshops and tuition.