Nikon D40

I’ve been so busy recently! Where does time go? I’m busy with my creative writing course and learning heaps about fiction writing. I’ve also been taking a photography course. I tend to take them regularly so I can keep learning.

The latest course I’ve been doing is with a New Zealand food and landscape photographer who is old-school. Amazing photographer and he encourages students to only shoot in Manual mode and preferably in black and white because it is so dramatic.

I’ve been busy running around the property snapping away. Some shots have worked; some haven’t. C’est la vie!


Just a bench in the secret garden but gets a bit dramatic when shot in B&W.


Great drama!! Probably too dark but I quite like it.


Lots of textures.


Good old Kiwi ferns.


Had to take this shot in colour – my beautiful girl, Zsa Zsa.


I mentioned in yesterday’s post that I spent a weekend with Kiwi friends at Lake Oahu. It’s a glacial lake in New Zealand’s South Island. Our friends own a small bach right on the shore line and we spent a very relaxing two days and nights. I spent most of my time taking photos of the truly spectacular scenery. I even spotted the Kiwi version of Uluru.

The light was amazing and seemed to cast a pastel wash over the landscape. The sunrises and sunsets were pink-hued. And I’ve never seen so many stars in my life. We even spotted some nebula. Hubs brought along our iPad (he can’t leave technology behind) and consulted the star charts.

We spent each night doing something people don’t do much of these days – talking. Some heavy duty philosophical discussions cropped up and revolved around whether there is a “puppet master” (aka God). I don’t drink but, about once every ten years or so, I’ll have a tiny bit of wine, which I did just before the discussion on the puppet master. I’m afraid I had very little to contribute because the teensy weensy bit of wine basically knocked me out. I don’t think I disgraced myself by snoring but I do know it was very enjoyable not to be surrounded by TV and laptops. We powered up the lights using the car battery and enjoyed a fab BBQ, along with toast made on a contraption I’ve never seen before.

The Kiwi version of Uluru.

Inside the cosy bach.

Yummo! BBQ time.

View of the lake through the bach window.

Toast-making contraption. Made surprisingly great toast. You place the toast on the outside.

Okay so you know I attended a 2-day photography course. And now I’ll tell you that is was with Richard Wood, an award-winning NZ photographer and finalist for NZ Photographer of the Year 2010. Check out his work to see how seriously good he is.

I hunted for a photographic course to attend but those I found cost heaps of money and full-time attendance at some college or institute. So I thought it would be smarter to find NZ photographers whose work I admire and see if they offer workshops or short courses. Bingo. Richard Wood was offering a Christchurch course in April.

The 2-day course was jam packed and what I liked about it most was that Richard freely admits he’s not a geeky, technical photographer but an artist and creative photographer. Someone who uses intuition to spot the unusual. I am self-taught on photography, having read dozens of books over the years on the technical side of things. But when it comes to taking photos, I’m drawn to light, patterns, textures, shapes. I don’t stop to consider “would this make a good technical photo?”.

I was also pleased to hear Richard say he is greatly influenced by Rembrandt. I studied his work during all the years I studied art (about 10 years of painting and learning to draw). I even tried to create a Rembrandt-mood in a couple of photos that I took in Rome during 2008.

UPDATE: Richard became NZ Photographer of the Year 2011, so I learnt from a Master!

I also discovered that my penchant for snapping red and green isn’t so bad – it creates a powerful image. Here’s another photo I took on my Rome trip.

And the best photos are minimalist and tell a story. Hopefully, these photos I took fall into this category.

The course made me realise that I have so much more to learn and that I have to do something I’ve been putting off. Learn Photoshop. I used to think that you should aim to take the best photo possible in-camera and not bother with post-production. But after attending this course and seeing Richard’s amazing new photos (really, it’s like digital art), I have to bite the bullet. Richard showed us tips and techniques in Photoshop, most of which went over my head as I haven’t used it. But I aim to master it now.

Because I enjoy shooting in B&W film with my plastic fantastic cameras, I’m thinking of hunting down an old film camera – maybe the Leica M6. Any photographers reading this – any suggestions? Here are some of my B&W shots taken with the Diana F+ camera.

There are a number of hares on the property. They look really cute and fluffy but are obviously a pest. Largely, because they burrow huge holes in paddocks that the horses and Zeph can trip over or fall into. I’ve fallen over quite a few holes actually as one foot goes in and twists.

Whilst out walking around the property the other day, I spotted one of the culprit hares. He spotted me just as I spotted him. He froze; I whipped the camera out. Just as I snapped the photo, the hare took off and Zeph ran after him. Now that Zeph is five months old, his running speed is getting fast and he nearly caught up with the hare. The farmer who grazes on our property keeps threatening to shoot the hares (I don’t know if that’s legal in NZ but a lot of farmers talk about shooting things). So at least I’ve immortalised the hare in this shot in case he’s gone tomorrow.

Travelling around the Canterbury area, you start to appreciate just how really beautiful this country is. When you see majestic oak trees and green wooded areas, you could be forgiven for thinking you might be in England. At other times, you think you could be in mid-West United States with large swathes of prairie land. Then there are Pure New Zealand scenes – huge lush ferns growing in the cool of a moist rainforest; harakeke/flax; Kauri pine; stunning Rata trees; stunning gorges like the one near me, Ashley Gorge.

And there are scenes like these that take your breathe away. The variety of colours and the wide-open spaces in New Zealand are a photographer’s dream really. Everywhere you look, there’s some stunning scene to snap.

A Kaimanawa was participating in the recent Polocrosse event but was quite happy staying in her float. Other horses were tied up to cars or the back of floats eating grass or psyching up for the Polocrosse. Not the Kaimanawa though. She wanted to stay inside her mobile horse palace until the last minute. One horse came over to see what was up.

Hey! Polocrosse starts pretty soon. Are you coming out or what?

At the recent Polocrosse event, I crouched down to ground level so I could get some shots of the horses and riders as they were flying past. I was temporarily distracted by some wonderful geometry and soft colours in the grass. At least this time, it wasn’t trees or leaves 🙂

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