Stefan Roberts – Long Exposure Enthusiast
Recently I made a series of portraits of Stefan Roberts. Stefan is a photography tutor at ARA Institute and a long time enthusiast of pinhole camera photography and super long exposures. The exposures run into months and years. I am also a long exposure enthusiast, though I work with relatively short time frames, between 30 seconds and 15 minutes. It is a fascinating area of photography because the composition you see in front of you often turns out in surprising ways. An alternative version of reality if you like.
The challenge was to photograph a portrait but within a long exposure of a seascape to evoke the passing of time. To accomplish this I combined two exposures:
- A six minute exposure of the seascape
- A strobe-lit exposure of Stefan giving some portrait lighting
To round off the series I made some images that feature the home-made pinhole camera, and a portrait of Stefan at work with a framed edition of a pinhole camera print.
Wine bottle shoot
Recently I completed a multi-day shoot for Brancott Estate and Stoneleigh vineyards in Marlborough. It is interesting to look at the set-up shot and the completed image. The day for the above shot was dull and overcast and threatening rain. In fact passing showers were spotting the bottles as I set up. Because we were going for a look that reflected the Wild Valley series name I decided to go with the conditions and used a water spray bottle to give the effect of light misty rain. A warm gelled hard light was added at the back of the bottles to simulate low angled sun to add a bit of sparkle to the otherwise dull light. The same added light back-lights the water droplets.
A few other shots from the series are included below. The ambient lighting conditions varied and each required a different approach to shaping the light to suit the image.
Recent Architectural Photography
Architectural photography has kept me busy lately. I particularly enjoy working with a mixture of artificial and natural light to emphasize structure and form.
There are many similarities with landscape photography with regards to planning and timing. To help produce the best work it pays to be flexible with regards to when the shots are taken. It is often worth waiting for the weather and time of day to coincide to show the building at its best.
Specialist equipment such as tilt-shift lenses, a vehicle platform and camera extension pole all help but in the end there is nothing like being there at the right time and working with the light and structure.
A portfolio of architectural work can be viewed here: john doogan architectural portfolio
The BIG kiwi camping panorama photo shoot – This was a huge shoot day, not to mention the planning and preparation. Click on the following link for some background: http://adobe.ly/1RHoyt3
South Island Journey for UK Times
For a couple of days I flew in a small plane with journalist Damien Barr and pilot Richard Kennard… click to go to article
Christchurch Airport Airbridges Virtual Reality Tour
Here is a virtual tour of the Christchurch Airport airbridge murals I have photographed over the last few years. This version has a full screen option, whereas the one on the Christchurch Airport site doesn’t.
Trimble Navigation Building
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.
- post-tensioned rocking Laminated Veneer Lumber frames (LVL)
- post-tensioned LVL rocking shear walls
- timber-concrete composite floors
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.
Hongi Mural at Christchurch Airport
There is a new welcome mural at the international arrival area of Christchurch International Airport. I was fortunate to do the portrait and the background photography, as well as the post-production to put it together. At 2.8 metres high by 17 metres long it’s pretty big and the images look really good at this large size.
Thanks to Hamish Southcott from Fountaine Design for the excellent concept; Steve from DT Signs for the superb printing; and the adventurous marketing team at Christchurch Airport. Also thanks to the very obliging models, and the helpful staff at Ko Tane Maori Cultural Experience, Willowbank.
Christchurch Airport Mackenzie Country Night Sky Airbridge
The latest airbridge completed for Christchurch Airport is the Mackenzie night sky. This was one of the most challenging airbridge installations to date. Night sky photography pushes the capabilities of cameras and lenses to their limits. The images also needed to be good enough to be printed to 2.8 metres high. I enlisted the help of Fraser Gunn, a specialist astrophotographer from Tekapo, who supplied lens heaters (to keep dew from forming on lenses), telescopes and tracking mechanisms. Fraser was very generous with his time and expertise. If you happen to be travelling through Tekapo, I thoroughly recommend booking one of Fraser’s small group night sky photography tours: http://www.astrophotography.co.nz/html/lesson.html
The photography was shot over two trips totalling around 11 nights. The phase of the moon, clear skies, and windless nights, were just some of the aspects that needed to line up to make the photography successful. Some things were hard to plan for – like the army sending up flares from behind Lake Alexandrina on one particularly clear night. No point in complaining about that one. One night we had a reasonable fall of snow, which meant the foreground was much clearer in the photographs for a few nights afterwards. I also hauled some gear up to Mueller Hut above Mount Cook Village for one night’s shoot.
The installation is over 30 metres long and includes many tiny lights in the ceiling to give the feel of a night sky. Jean Michel Jarre’s Oxygene Part 4 is the soundtrack that plays as you walk down the airbridge. I think I had that album back in the day (the 70s).
Waitikiri Property Development
I recently completed an assignment for the Waitikiri property development on the outskirts of Christchurch. This is the second portfilio of work I have done for them under the direction of Robert Jamieson from Q Brand Agency. As with many property developments, it is being completed in stages. The challenge was to show the areas still being developed in an appealing way but also to show what has been achieved so far, to give prospects an idea of the completed environment.
Thanks to Robert Jamieson from Q Brand Agency and Hilton Smith from Smith Developments.
Marlborough Wine Airbridge Murals
The airbridge murals featuring Marlborough wine country have been installed and they look great! Each side is 31 metres long by 2.4 metres high. Putting them together was the most challenging airbridge to date. Each row had to be photographed separately by moving the camera along one row at a time. In addition, each row required six exposures to provide sufficient depth of field and to capture the width of each row. It took 30 minutes to photograph from one end of the 15 rows to the other.
In the end, the most difficult thing to accommodate was the weather. The day of the shoot was the third attempt for a cloudless day. It was a relief to wrap it up, as I was required back in Christchurch the following day.
A lot of planning and testing went into this image. I am very grateful to the staff at Brancott Estate who helped out behind the scenes and acted as models on the day of the shoot. I am also indebted to Diana Dobson from Marlborough Falcon Trust who posed with Fern the falcon for the mural. Marborough Falcon Trust are sponsored by Brancott Estate and operate from buildings on the Estate near where this mural was photographed. If you buy some of the Brancott Living Land Series of wines, $1 of each bottle goes to the Marlborough Falcon Trust.
Westland Dairy Products Landscape Photo Shoot
Just before winter really set in I completed a landscape photo shoot for Westland Milk Products under the direction of Robert Jamieson from Q Brand Agency. As always, it was a pleasure to work with the team at Q.
The photography included locations in Canterbury, and the West Coast – as far south as Fox Glacier and north to Greymouth. Several trips and a helicopter ride were timed with an eye on the weather forecast, which is tricky on the Coast (there is a reason it is so green over there).
On an assignment like this, more time is spent researching locations than actual shooting. In fact, the success of the shoot depends on the research. When the lighting is good it pays to know the area, so you are at the best locations and can move quickly from one viewpoint to another; or have backup locations in case the first choice doesn’t work out. The middle part of the day, when the lighting is usually at its worst, is a good time to do reconnaissance.
I got to meet a few farmers along the way and, without exception, they were helpful and accommodating. I don’t envy their job, it’s a mucky business with awful hours. Talking of muck, with a noisy water pump causing concern I nursed my car back to Christchurch after the final shoot. The garage had to keep the car for longer than expected, so as to steam clean their way through the accumulated cow manure to access the problem!
Waimakariri Images at NZI Headquarters in Temuka
A set of five framed images have recently been installed in the New Zealand Insulators headquarters entrance stairwell in Temuka. The 88 year old manufacturing business is undergoing a resurgence after years of decline due to competition from cheap imports. They proudly display the Made in New Zealand logo on the front page of the NZI website. It is great to see a local manufacturer support the local economy and compete vigorously against cheaper imports.