NZ Geographic feature done – NZ Land use

February 15th, 2018 § 0 comments, Add the 1st

Been a manic but terribly exciting week on the F800GSA around NZ shooting another feature for New Zealand Geographic Magazine on land use in NZ.

Rob Suisted, Nature's Pic Images

I’ve learned a heck of a lot more about our big picture agriculture, appropriate land use, precision farming and adding value to our exports to get out of our traditional ‘commodities from the colonies’ history. Stay tuned for the next issue coming very soon – in fact real soon – I had to ride like the wind from the Manawatu late tonight to make deadline for press!

NZ Geographic NZ Photographer of the Year judging 2010

August 2nd, 2010 § 2 comments - add yours

I’m judging the NZ Geographic Photographer of the Year Photo Competition, alongside Andris Apse and Arno Gasteiger.

Entries are open now, there’s $6000 and a bit of fame up for grabs, and entry is free & online.   No excuses not to enter.  Closing date for entries 10pm, Tuesday 21st September, 2010.  Get into it.  Hopefully I’ll be viewing your work soon!  Good luck.

Latest New Zealand Geographic Mag feature shot on Mana Island, Nov 2009

November 6th, 2009 § 0 comments, Add the 1st

Teamed up with Editor of NZ Geographic Magazine, James Frankham, to do a feature on nocturnal Mana Island.  Photography of wildlife can be tough, but doing it alone, in the dark, fitting between southerly cold fronts and short timeframes makes it all the sweeter for me when it comes off. I enjoyed this one, and working with James in a can-do style.

The story is contained in the 100th issue of NZ Geographic Magazine (a great milestone for James and the team).  How about getting a copy as it’s a beaut read – in fact it’s so good I can’t think of a reason not to.  Better still I think you should subscribe).  Here are a few of the frames selected for publication and a bit of info behind them.   nzgeomagnov200901I wanted to show rarely seen wildlife living on this special island, but contextually it’s so close to our capital city (hence I wanted the light pollution illuminating the skies beyond). The shot above was taken after sitting motionless in the dark for 2 hours in camouflage clothing waiting for the diving petrels to return to their burrows after dark. I was ready to leave when a lone bird landed nearby amongst the flowering native ice plant - what a stroke of luck. It sat there preening while I careffully took it’s portrait.
nzgeomagnov200902Above is one of the island’s geckos. At night they all come out hunting insects and …. > > > Continue reading : full post + comments > > >

Story Portraits

December 19th, 2018 § 0 comments, Add the 1st

Story portraits tell a story in one photograph. Rob Suisted creates meaningful photographic portraits that capture the essence of an individual, their endeavours, or their lives.

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Here are some examples and their explanations:

Bryce Johnson, CEO Fish & Game Council. Canon Media Award winning portrait by Rob Suisted

Bryce Johnson, CEO Fish & Game Council. Canon Media Award winning portrait by Rob Suisted

This story portrait was shot to show Bryce Johnson’s role as key lobbyist for freshwater anglers – sports gear underwater, suit, phone and parliamentary papers above. Shot in one frame you can read how it was created here. This story portrait won portrait of the year in the prestigious Canon Media Awards.


Gareth Morgan, climate change advocate, among many other things. Story portrait by Rob Suisted

Gareth Morgan, climate change advocate, among many other things. Story portrait by Rob Suisted

Gareth Morgan is pretty high profile and has advocated for many interesting things. This image was created to acknowledge his climate change advocacy for a profile piece in NZ Geographic Magazine.  The full story is laid out here, but in summary, I wanted to station him on a melting piece of ice in Antarctica to represent the dire situation our earth faces.  The idea behind him holding the face mask and snorkel was a play to some people thinking our planet has a plan B more futile that diving gear to save Gareth. The image has been very successful, and used by Gareth to support the creation of a new political party in the general election. Finalist in the prestigious Canon Media Awards.


Lisa McLaren, Climate Change Advocate, future leader. Story portrait by Rob Suisted

Lisa McLaren, Climate Change Advocate, future leader. Story portrait by Rob Suisted

Lisa McLaren is an up and coming leader, advocate for climate action, and researcher.  I was commissioned to take her story portrait. Key themes I chose to illustrate were: Low carbon (wind turbine), blue sky thinking and a breath of fresh air.  We managed this in one shoot (with two attempts over two days due to weather) at Wellington’s Brooklyn wind turbine – during a gale force wind storm! Somewhat trying were conditions – wind opposing light, making it hard to wrangle hair, clothing and lighting equipment into the right directions, while blades on the turbine behind sat in the right position. The image also needed to portray Lisa in a pose with ‘Mana’, or gravitas, suitable for the role she’s taking on.


Dr Warren Williams, grasslands scientist, in Forage Germplasm coolstore. Story portrait by Rob Suisted

Dr Warren Williams, grasslands scientist, in Forage Germplasm coolstore. Story portrait by Rob Suisted

Dr Warren Williams is a world leading grassland scientist at AgResearch in Palmerston North.  This image was taken inside the coolstore archiving important pasture grasses and legumes from around the world.  I included the magnifying glass of course as a hat tip to his research role, and placing him among such an important archive both makes for a visually interesting ‘science-y’ back drop, but also places him firmly among his research subjects.


Dr Jamie Steer, whose views regarding introduced pests species has made him a target. Story portrait by Rob Suisted

Dr Jamie Steer, whose views regarding introduced pests species has made him a target. Story portrait by Rob Suisted

Dr Jamie Steer has published some controversial views about introduced pest species and their future role in NZ. This is of course contrary to the main belief that anything introduced is bad.  Dr Steer has of course made a target for himself.  I was commissioned to shot this image to accompany a profile article, and thought it needed a strong story portrait to do the matter justice.  I liked the simplicity of man with a target on himself, between introduced game animals that have had the same target.  Full story of this portrait is here.


Roger Beattie, developer of the pacific pearl, grown in NZ Paua, Abalone. Story portrait by Rob Suisted

Roger Beattie, developer of the pacific pearl, grown in NZ Paua, Abalone. Story portrait by Rob Suisted

Roger Beattie is an entrepreneur that created the Pacific Pearl by seeding NZ Abalone Shells. Here his story portrait endeavours to capture Roger’s passion, and also to tell the story of how Paua are farmed to create his jewellery products, at the actual site of creation.


Jackie Bedford, Wellington School of Philosophy. Story portrait by Rob Suisted

Jackie Bedford, Wellington School of Philosophy. Story portrait by Rob Suisted

When arranging to take Jackie Bedford’s portrait at the School of Philosophy I noticed the noon sun reach down through the school’s skylights.  I returned the next day with a haze machine to catch those rays and create this story portrait of a philosopher.  The ray of light represents enlightenment during study.


Dr Gina Grimshaw, Senior Lecturer, Cognitive neuroscientist. Story portrait by Rob Suisted

Dr Gina Grimshaw, Senior Lecturer, Cognitive neuroscientist. Story portrait by Rob Suisted

How to make a brain teaser for a portrait of a brain researcher?  This story portrait took some thinking through.  I was commissioned to shoot this image and wanted to make our brains work to understand it.  Firstly, Dr Grimshaw is in a completely different room to her research subject.  By exploiting ‘Snell’s Window‘ (the point at which light changes from refraction to reflection through glass) I was able to place them together.  By placing different temperature light in the two rooms it helps the viewer understand the image, as do the post it notes on the glass.  Dr Grimshaw (and the two dummy heads) actually sits off the far right of the photo.  An appropriate way to create a story portrait of a neuroscientist I think.


Bill Robertson, ex-Surveyor General of New Zealand. Story portrait by Rob Suisted

Bill Robertson, ex-Surveyor General of New Zealand. Story portrait by Rob Suisted

Bill Robertson is a fascinating man who has had a remarkable career, from survey fieldwork, to delineating war zones, to creating unique maps and charts. As Surveyor General of New Zealand, he was responsible for land jurisdiction through New Zealand and dependancies.  When commissioned to shoot his portrait I felt it needed to include elements of his profession (the trig survey station), but also an eye looking out to the future, and horizon.  Of course, weathered face and hands are testament to years in the mountains and elements.


Matthews Family, passing 170+ years of time on Waiorongomai Station. Story portrait by Rob Suisted

Matthews Family, passing 170+ years of time on Waiorongomai Station. Story portrait by Rob Suisted

The Matthews family have farmed Waiorongomai Station, South Wairarapa, since the start. For me the story portrait I shot had to represent the passing of time, and their steadfast connection to the land here.  By co-opting several hundred sheep as extras and letting my shutter drag for several seconds I was able to get the dynamic movement to capture the passing of time, while Charlie, Karla, and their kids stood perfectly still under the giant old tree planted by an ancestor.


Dr Jan Wright, Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment. Story portrait by Rob Suisted

Dr Jan Wright, Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment. Story portrait by Rob Suisted

I was commissioned to take Dr Jan Wright’s portrait to be used while she was Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment. It would also be left in the office beside portraits of previous incumbents. Rather than conservative boardroom type portraits, we opted to tell more of her role – by simply placing her into the environment, and using some fantastic complimentary colours.  It had to also capture the importance and gravitas of her role to Government.  I have previously taken Dr Wright’s portrait with a stronger emphasis on telling the story of her role. More here.


Kevin Prime. NZ Conservationist of the Decade, Maori affairs, leader. Story portrait by Rob Suisted

Kevin Prime. NZ Conservationist of the Decade, Maori affairs, leader. Story portrait by Rob Suisted

Kevin Prime is a noted conservationist, Commissioner with the Environment Court, Maori leader, farmer, ministerial advisor, role model, father of 13, and many other things. I was commissioned to shoot his portrait, which is daunting when you have to do justice to someone of this standing, or Mana.  My thinking kept coming back to the feeling that Kevin is a metaphoric Kauri tree in our forest.  I definitely wanted to capture Kevin inside a forest anyway, as I’d seen how much energy it gave this man; it lit his eyes and sparked up a youth like passion (these are observations that portrait photographers must start observing, long before photos are taken).  I wanted to photograph Kevin with a giant Kauri tree, but it had to be done right, not cliched.  When I put this idea to Kevin, he said “I know just the tree”. When we arrived, I saw a fire light up in this eyes, and then heard a strange noise and then felt it – the tree dropped it’s seeds on us.  We looked at each other, he said “that’s auspicious”. We were on the right track.  The photo above I’m pleased with; it associates Kevin with the King of the forest, but shows him in a humble natural way.  His hand connects him to the giant Taonga, with respect. (Photo taken with proper biosecurity consideration regarding Kauri dieback disease)


Stu Muir, protecting wetland and river habitat for whitebait spawning. Story portrait by Rob Suisted

Stu Muir, protecting wetland and river habitat for whitebait spawning. Story portrait by Rob Suisted

Stu Muir is a farmer who cares about wetland restorations, living beside the mighty Waikato River delta.  He’s put a lot of effort into habitat restoration for our native whitebait.  How to capture that in one portrait photo?  We took a few days to get it, but this frame is what we came up with.  We screened the river to create a flow for the whitebait, stationed me in a small punt, and I used an underwater camera with a big front port, and very wide lens to shoot it. There’s a photo of us doing this here. The photo aims to show Stu looking over the young whitebait as Kaitiaki as they swim upstream into new habitat he’s created.


Kate Broadbent and Emily Welch testing breeding stock for facial eczema spore tolerance. Story portrait by Rob Suisted

Kate Broadbent and Emily Welch testing breeding stock for facial eczema spore tolerance. Story portrait by Rob Suisted

Kate Broadbent runs a Coopworth sheep stud that breeds facial eczema tolerant sheep through careful testing and controlled breeding.  This image tells that story by bringing in the science and research aspect to the work with animals in the stockyards.


Emily and Sam Welch, record holding shearers on their home stand, under a rimu tree. Story portrait by Rob Suisted

Emily and Sam Welch, record holding shearers on their home stand, under a rimu tree. Story portrait by Rob Suisted

Emily Welch is a world record holding shearer.  So is her husband Sam.  Shearing is also their professional livelihood. Rural folk don’t trumpet success; Emily and Sam are no different. Despite being world beating athletes, their home shearing stand is a single stand under the Rimu tree in the backyard.  It underlines their humble nature, a key feature in this story portrait.  We waited until dusk, took a long lead out with some tungsten light to give a nice warm glow, and I lit Emily’s high speed shearing with a softbox to stop the blur.  Dog watches on


Roger Belton (founder of Southern Clams Ltd) checking clams harvested at dawn. Story portrait by Rob Suisted

Roger Belton (founder of Southern Clams Ltd) checking clams harvested at dawn. Story portrait by Rob Suisted

Roger Belton couldn’t understand why Kiwi’s didn’t value our clam beds while other nationalities craved them.  He started a successful export business through hard work, research, and infectious enthusiasm.  The tides dictate harvest and often this mean early starts.  Here I wanted to show what Roger exports, but to also capture his passion that drives him to work in the cold coastal waters while most of us still sleep.


Georgie (nee King) and Scott Archibold farming at French Pass, with D'Urville Island behind, where Georgie's family goes way back. Story Portrait by Rob Suisted

Georgie (nee King) and Scott Archibold farming at French Pass, with D’Urville Island behind, where Georgie’s family goes way back. Story Portrait by Rob Suisted

Georgie Archibold (nee King) grew up on remote D’Urville Island, as did many generations of her family before her.  However, the family sold the farm, but her passion to become a farmer was strong.  She and her husband Scott therefore managed a large farm across the narrow but dramatic stretch of water called French Pass (with it’s iconic lighthouse).  This story portrait bridges that connection for her, and the use of the lighthouse firmly anchors them to this familial location. Red band gumboots are of course a clear link to a farming lifestyle.


Matt Newton. Helicopter Pilot and farmer. Story portrait by Rob Suisted

Matt Newton. Helicopter Pilot and farmer. Story portrait by Rob Suisted

Matt Newton is a well known chopper pilot and farmer in North Taranaki.  I had to document his life and work.  Not long after I arrived he appeared and said he had to lift a helicopter off some spray equipment.  It was pouring with rain and it was dark.  Heck, why not try for the impossible – no light, movement, lots of water, cameras.  Of course, as a rescue pilot, these are the nights he’s often called on to fly. We fluked it.  My medium format digital camera made a big difference, and side light from the hangar gave me a bit to work with.  The red strobes on the aircraft flashed the blades above with stop motion, and we were half way there.  Matt hovered and stayed dead still looking at me.  Out of many frames shot, this one jumped out sharp.  Matt’s comment when he saw it – “I’ve seen helicopter photos all my life, and that’s the best one yet”. He might be biased, but I think it captures his work and essence.


If you needed a story portrait commissioned, please make contact via: www.robsuistedphotography.co.nz. We work with a wide range of clients, from magazine and book publishers, to Government departments or businesses wishing to create a new look, a record of achievement, retirement gift, or with private individuals wishing to capture the meaning of someone special to them. We can discuss ideas and work up a plan and price.


Public Speaking

March 29th, 2018 § 0 comments, Add the 1st

Rob Suisted is a sought after, interesting, entertaining and experienced, public speaker. He has a huge range of experiences, expertise and stories from his work and travels around NZ and the world. You should consider him for your next conference or gathering.

Rob is a multi-award winning photographer, has published 17 books to date (one a major award winner with Harry Broad), has traveled widely in wilderness areas around the world and NZ, has worked as a senior conservation advisor, and Polar guide.  He’s loves sharing true stories of the places he’s visited, the people he’s met and learnt from, and the adventures he’s had.

Rob has recently returned from the internationally recognised WOMAD festival in NZ where he was asked to talk about his life, work, and how he come to be entrusted with photographing the 50th anniversary book for the 2nd oldest TV series in the world; Country Calendar.

Also recently he’s been an after dinner speaker at the Southern Hemisphere Alpine Conference, a guest speaker at the Taranaki Arts Festival, a NZ Mountain Safety Council conference, a ‘Nerd-nite’ talk on his experiences and impressions of Antarctica, a Wairarapa Science evening talk, and special town hall presentations to survivors of the Kaikoura earthquake about how he approached filming the aftermath for NZ Geographic Magazine.  Rob has also lectured regularly in the Arctic and Antarctic on subjects such as his wilderness time, marine mammal conservation, photography and assignments.  He’s also given countless talks to clubs, societies, conferences and conventions over the years.

If you’d like to discuss getting Rob along to an event you’re hosting, then please drop Kerri a line

 

Rob Suisted presenting at WOMAD NZ, about his life, work, and how he become entrusted to photograph the 50th anniversary book for the 2nd oldest TV show in the world - Country Calendar

Rob Suisted presenting at WOMAD NZ, about his life, work, and how he become entrusted to photograph the 50th anniversary book for the 2nd oldest TV show in the world – Country Calendar

NZ Photographer of the Year Awards

December 22nd, 2017 § 0 comments, Add the 1st

Success in the NZ Geographic Photographer of the Year awards.  I entered a few in the aerial category and managed two finalists.  Last week in Auckland, one of these won the big prize!

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Rob Suisted proudly accepting his trophy from Richard Greasley of DJI / Lacklands, award sponsors. Photo by Richard Robinson

Here’s the image that won the award this year

An early winter sunset cast warm light over the landscape as Rob Suisted travelled past Mt Ruapehu. Suspecting the foothills might reveal interesting textures and forms when seen from above, he pulled over to capture the scene with a drone—a spur of the moment decision aided by familiarity with the landscape.

DJI AERIAL WINNER: ROB SUISTED: An early winter sunset cast warm light over the landscape as Rob Suisted travelled past Mt Ruapehu. Suspecting the foothills might reveal interesting textures and forms when seen from above, he pulled over to capture the scene with a drone—a spur of the moment decision aided by familiarity with the landscape.

If you’re in Auckland, it’s very well worth your time to go visit the beautiful NZ Geographic Photographer of the Year Awards Exhibition, prior to 25 Feb 2018.

Great to see my image HUGE inside Auckland Museum heralding the beautiful back lit exhibition by NZ Geo

Great to see my image HUGE inside Auckland Museum heralding the beautiful back lit exhibition by NZ Geo

In my sights – a controversial portrait

October 29th, 2016 § 0 comments, Add the 1st

Jamie Steer questions the status quo around introduced species to New Zealand. Its fair to say his views are controversial, but he’s willingly made a target of himself.  I was commissioned to shoot his portrait.Janie Steer portrait, by Rob Suisted 55485QF00_w

Playing around with the idea of hunting introduced species, and how Jamie is happy to be a target for debate, this is the work I did to make a very strong literal ‘story portrait’ to illustrate the interview for NZ Geographic Magazine:
And here are a few of the options supplied for the editor to consider:Janie Steer portrait, by Rob Suisted

I shot Gareth Morgan for you

June 15th, 2016 § 3 comments - add yours

Plenty of folks would get in line to shoot Gareth Morgan I’m sure, but it’s not that easy – I can attest.

Gareth Morgan is a man of many interests, passions and opinions, whose strong desire to get good things done can certainly polarise - take his cat control views (which have gone global) for instance.

Gareth Morgan and 'Plan B' - face mask and snorkel. There is no Plan B with climate change. On melting ice, Antarctica. ©Rob Suisted, for NZ Geographic

Gareth Morgan and ‘Plan B’ – face mask and snorkel. There is no Plan B with climate change. On melting ice, Antarctica. ©Rob Suisted, for NZ Geographic

So I was certainly keen when NZ Geographic Magazine commissioned me shoot Gareth for a portrait profile piece.  Serendipity intervened again, as I discovered that we were to be on the same ship in Antarctica the following month.

Gareth Morgan is a strong climate change campaigner and author of a book on the subject, so a bit of creative dreaming arrived at a strong metaphorical image to capture the man’s character and one of his important messages.

This was my 17th trip to Antarctica. I drive boats and lecture, as a break from professional photography.  So, we took a boat on Xmas day, out into flat water behind Plenneau Island, borrowed a face mask and snorkel, and dropped Gareth off on the best piece of ice we could find to represent the melting ice of climate change.  The casual holding of the face mask and snorkel in normal business attire was designed to represent the foolish notion that many people carry, vis, that we have a ‘plan B’ somewhere for climate change. Plan B isn’t an option – just as a facemask isn’t here.

I’m proud of the result – strong metaphorical frame that captures Gareth Morgan in a striking way – no trickery, no post production work – simple.  BUT check out the pile of comments on Gareth Morgan’s facebook page.  It’s galling when some people, from the comfort of their home, suggest a great photo must be ‘photo-shopped’.  *Cough* – THAT photo is the combination of skills learnt over a long time as a professional photographer, planning, a good creative process, and qualifications and experience operating boats on over 20 polar expeditions! Everyone is a cynic, a critic, or blimin both…

Rob Suisted polar guiding and boat driving

Rob Suisted polar guiding and boat driving

Anyway, here’s the NZ Geographic Magazine article the image was used in: Out in the Cold.  And Gareth was a bloody good sort, keenly signing up to the idea, and willingly being marooned on a small ice floe while we (I and his family) drifted off without him, in the frozen middle of nowhere. Shot with a Pentax 645Z and DFA25mm lens.

Portrait of an environmental guardian

July 29th, 2015 § 0 comments, Add the 1st

I’ve twice been commissioned to shoot Dr Jan Wright’s portrait while she was the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment.  I like making strong ‘story portraits’ – images that capture the essence, work, passion, or message of the subject.  Dr Jan Wright was a perfect subject for this style.

Here’s the ‘official portrait of Dr Wright while in office. I wanted to put Dr Wright into nature, not just make it her back drop.  The colours are very pleasing to my eye:Dr Jan Wright portrait by Rob Suisted 52859QF00_w
New Zealand Geographic commissioned me to record her portrait for the magazine. Here’s Dr Wright in her natural environment, with a carefully placed nod to the halls of government power, to signify the relationship and influence of her role. Here’s the link to the article.Dr Jan Wright portrait, by Rob Suisted 49002QF00_w

Canon Media Award success! Best Portrait 2015

June 3rd, 2015 § 1 comment - add yours

Travelled to Auckland for a great evening with New Zealand’s finest news media folk, at the 2015 Canon Media Awards, held at Sky City.  I entered the best photographic portrait category,…and won.

Happy photographer! Best published portrait in media - 2015

Happy photographer! Best published portrait in media - 2015

Entry to awards is limited to published work in newspapers or magazines, and there was stiff competition amongst working professional photographers.  The image (below) that won was commissioned and published by New Zealand Geographic Magazine.  The back story to it’s creation has been written up.  Thanks to Canon New Zealand for sponsoring this huge event.

Bryce Johnson portrait, NZ Fish and Game Council CEO

Best Portrait winner - 2015 Canon Media Awards: Bryce Johnson portrait, NZ Fish and Game Council CEO. By Rob Suisted, for New Zealand Geographic Magazine

Runner up, Photographer of the Year 2014 awards

November 4th, 2014 § 0 comments, Add the 1st

Following on from the Major book award by our Molesworth Station Book, I’m very proud to say that Molesworth Station images taken while filming the Book have just won runner up in the NZ Geographic Magazine, NZ Photographer of the Year awards. molesworth_pix_wpoty2014

For a look at a large selection of Molesworth Station photos, go here. If you’re interested in purchasing any of these images on high quality canvas art prints, then check this out.

I’d like to thank New Zealand Geographic Magazine for running this great award, and to their sponsors for supporting it.

A Very Good Week – Finalist in 2 National Awards

August 11th, 2014 § 1 comment - add yours

Finalist in the New Zealand Post Book Awards, AND Finalist in the New Zealand Geographic Photographer of the Year Awards in the same week. Very proud about that. Please give us a vote in the Public choice awards
NZ Post Book Awards UPDATE: We WON! Have a lookNew Zealand Awards Finalist Rob Suisted

Thank you.

Shooting a Clean River Advocate. A Tough Assignment.

July 28th, 2014 § 0 comments, Add the 1st

New Zealand Geographic Magazine had me do another editorial portrait; Bryce Johnson was the subject of their regular feature ‘Profile’.

UPDATE: 23 May 2015: WE DID IT! Photo won it’s category in the 2015 Canon Media Awards! We’re very proud about that! Big thanks to NZ Geographic Magazine, and Canon New Zealand.

UPDATE: May 2015: This photo is 1 of 3 FINALISTs in the prestigous Canon Media Awards for 2015. Cross your fingers!

My job was to communicate Bryce’s varied roles in one image.  This was a formidable task as CEO of the NZ Fish and Game Council his is a complex and varied role.  Primarily, Fish and Game is a statutory organisation concerned with the rights of anglers and hunters, and advocating for improving habitat.

The portrait needed to capture that variety. I wanted to focus on his advocacy for anglers and freshwater quality for all of us, but also how his day can stretch from political halls of the The Beehive, to the bank of a river.  Here’s what I got:

Bryce Johnson portrait, NZ Fish and Game Council

The shot was fairly complex, it required a wide angle underwater photo to catch the habitat around Bryce and called for a balanced mix of underwater strobe, above water flash and ambient natural light.  I used a slave trigger that fired the topside flash whenever the underwater camera strobe fired – one underwater strobe lighting Bryce’s legs, one flash pointing upward towards the softbox flash, and natural light toned down to give a sombre background to delineate Bryce’s from.

Behind the scenes of Bryce Johnson portrait for NZ Geographic Magazine

The biggest problems we had were a suitable…

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A photo compliment committed to skin!

December 16th, 2011 § 4 comments - add yours

Some things stand out in my working photographic career; but having a photo tattooed onto skin, as a living memorial, has to be a remarkable compliment.

NZ Falcon photo tattoo

Nick Johns contacted me for permission to use a photo as a memorial to his brother.  Some things cross boundaries, and this does for me – creating an image someone feels is good enough to permanently etch onto their body in honour of someone they have lost, is very humbling. New Zealand falcon photograph

Nick wanted to tell everyone that his brother died as a consequence of drug addiction. ” We are all addicted to something in this life.  But the trouble with drugs for the addict is they progress, as Tim did from the so called harmless drugs, Marijuana etc to eventually the hard drugs, in Tim’s case Methamphetamine.  The only good thing to come out of this, is it has shown the next generation in our families how drugs will destroy lives. It destroyed their awesome Uncle Tim whom they all loved so very much.”

Thank you Nick for wanting to share this, and for creating a very humbling experience for me, from what is a very sad experience and loss for you.  We’d both love to hear your comments if you’d like to post any here.

You can learn more about how the image was originally captured for the cover of NZ Geographic Magazine, and how it was also used by a church with a great sense of humour.  There are more photos of this remarkable species, the New Zealand Falcon, here, and we’ve created a special quality canvas print.  Further, we selected it to be used as preface to Majestic New Zealand book because it’s a special shot that captures the essence of a remarkable but endangered creature.

New books and a great photo competition

August 17th, 2011 § 5 comments - add yours

Just got advance copies of my eigth and ninth books arrive.  Smaller softcover titles this time.  Especially like the Mount Ngauruhoe cover; Beaut. You should see these in shops in the next week or two.

Rob Suisted's new book titles due any day - New Zealand Birds book, and National Parks Book

Rob Suisted's new book titles due any day - Birds of New Zealand book, and National Parks of New Zealand Book. New Holland Publishers.

Also – I’m judging the NZ Geographic Magazine Photographer of the Year awards again in 2011.  Make sure you get your entries in by 14 September 2011 here

An inspiring woman and inspiring photo job

December 20th, 2010 § 2 comments - add yours

Bianca Edwards doesn’t do things by halves.  But her back was broken in halves.  Her story is as remarkable as her attitude.  Several weeks ago I shot the New Zealand Geographic Magazine article on ‘Happiness’.  Bianca was part of this story.  I enjoyed meeting her, and thoroughly enjoyed working together on an image that captured her remarkable spirit.  On the drive back to the office, my assistant Aliscia Young spoke about the inspiration we’d both experienced.   Let me tell you about it.

Bianca was a top athlete, competing in multi-sport events, and while training, was hit from behind by a van at 100km/h.  Her back was shattered and she was lucky to survive.  What followed is a remarkable recovery led by determination, optimism and, I think above all, the unwillingness to be a victim to her situation.  The article by Dave Hansford focuses on how Bianca was able to readjust her expectations; from expecting to win events, to making simple steps, like wiggling a toe.  A trait that some research suggests is key to being happy.

So, knowing this, how do you approach a photo shoot that gives dignity to the subject, captures their spirit, and avoids creating another cliched photo of a disabled person toiling against obstacles? 

Discussing angles on the phone with Bianca was a joy – full of ideas and keen to give it her best, we threw around ideas about the things that were important to her – fitness, swimming, study, Ducatis…  Motorcycle riding was key, especially with her friends and fellow Ducati owners Carla and Fiona (friends like this that Bianca rates in her recovery) .  Hang on….from not being able to walk, to riding big motorcycles?!  The angle fast became clear.  But, how to shoot a portrait that captured this story? 

Carla, Rob, Bianca & Fiona. The Ducati women of the Wairarapa.

After the shoot. Carla, Rob, Bianca & Fiona. The Ducati women of the Wairarapa.

Bianca’s story in the happiness article for me is one of ‘freedom’ – freedom of movement, but also freedom of mind.  So, it was important that we had a very dynamic image to portray freedom. We tried to accomplish this with an open face helmet, but the freedom died.  With considerable care we took this without the helmet.  I think we caught Bianca’s spirit in the image below. What do you think?

Bianca Edwards and her Ducati, with Fiona and Carla

Bianca Edwards and her Ducati, with Fiona and Carla

TECHNICAL SPECS: We pottered very slowing along with a 1/8th sec shutter with ND filter, while using my aerial photography gyro stabiliser to maintain sharpness but achieve a blurred movement.  I super-clamped and magic armed 3 strobes to the back of the vehicle, and shot from the rear hatch.  Canon 1dsMk3, 16-35mm, ND filter, 3 canon flashes, Kenro gyro.

Capturing Happiness

December 8th, 2010 § 1 comment - add yours

Just had a week shooting an article on ‘Happiness‘ for the Jan/Feb 2011 issue of New Zealand Geographic Magazine

A bit outside my normal beat, but despite initial trials and tribulations, it became a most satisfying and challenging week.  Meeting, filming and spending time with such a varied group of people interested in happiness, really made me happy.  Not surprising really – from a buddhist monk to a philosopher, brain researcher and even an athlete who has learnt to walk again and now shes rides ducatis for fun, it was very inspiring.  I hope my images do them all justice.  Rob Suisted filming at monastery for happiness articleHere’s a hint of what’s coming. And here’s another teaser from NZ Geographic http://twitpic.com/3bf5ed.  Have a look out when the next issue arrives, and let me know what you think. I’ll be writing more on this subject. All the best, Rob

Over-cooking a good thing – the future of nature photography?

October 29th, 2010 § 9 comments - add yours

Recently I helped judge the New Zealand Geographic Magazine Photographer of the Year awards with Andris Apse, Arno Gasteiger & James Frankham. Some interesting things stood out, but one in particular really surprised.

I’d guess 50% of images submitted in the landscape / scenic section had overly heavy use of HDR (high dynamic range) or some other overworked tonal mapping technique. For me it’s becoming the ‘graduated tobacco coloured sunset filter’ of the 80’s; obviously fake, overblown and often used pointlessly. It knocked how I felt about current landscape photography for a number of reasons…

Nature blesses us with remarkable beauty. We should seek to be good enough to do her justice in a photo. Sure, it can be tough dealing with the light she gives us, but we should rise to the challenge and learn how to capture it with strong technique and novel ideas when you’re out in the field, and then maybe touch it up with a light hand back home on the computer. We learnt good field skills before digital was invented.

Now it seems many just bracket shots, run them through an HDR program, wiggle a few sliders and output a terribly… > > > Continue reading : full post + comments > > >

2010 Magazine Cover Awards. We’re a finalist so far

September 20th, 2010 § 3 comments - add yours

UPDATE 29 Oct: WE WON our section! …… We’ve become a finalist in the 2010 Magazine Cover awards! I worked with New Zealand Geographic Magazine to create a special image to showcase our threatened New Zealand Falcon.

New Zealand Geographic Magazine Cover this month

New Zealand Geographic Magazine cover finalist in 2010 awards

I’m very proud of the image and how NZ Geographic treated it. Obviously other people agree and of course, I’d love it to win the title. If you agree it would be great to get your vote here: http://www.themaggies.co.nz/vote-now/ (and there’s a $5 discount incentive on subscriptions). Fingers crossed.
maggies2010

‘Rob’oCam – The art of spying on birds

March 12th, 2010 § 1 comment - add yours

New Zealand Geographic featured a nice article about Rob’s TankCam, otherwise known as RoboCam (nice touch guys!). If you’re interested in a behind-the-scenes look of the Fairy terns shoot please check out the article here and Rob’s video here.

Let us know what you think, it’s always great to hear your feedback!

New Zealand Geographic RoboCam article

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Shooting New Zealand’s RAREST bird with a TANK

December 15th, 2009 § 12 comments - add yours

TANKCAM (‘Rob-o-cam’). Tough assignment to film NZ’s rarest bird – the Fairy Tern for NZ Geographic Magazine.  Less than 40 birds known, they nest in the open and human disturbance may stop breeding.

Solution was to build a remote control ftcam_tvehicle that I could very slowly inch towards the nest over an hour while we monitored the birds’ reaction and leave it set up to capture intimate scenes (very, as you’ll see below!).  So that’s why I built TankCam. We’ve kept the highly successful assignment under wraps until now.  This video tells the story and gives you an idea of three days worth of filming, behind the scenes.  Please view and post your comments – it’s great to get your feedback:

Why not use a large telephoto lens you might ask? … > > > Continue reading : full post + comments > > >

RadioActive FM interview

November 28th, 2009 § 0 comments, Add the 1st

radioactivefmJust interviewed on my old Varsity Radio Station Radio Active FM.  Great fun interview with Simon Smith and Zelda Edwards about my new book, recent adventures, and life. Really enjoyed the chat.

audioClick here if you missed it live and want to listen.  We chewed the fat on things like; Greenland, the Arctic, Climate change, life in space, teleprompters, Antarctica, TankCam, NZ’s rarest bird (the fairy tern!), NZ Geographic Mag falcons, the spice of life, Icebergs around NZ, Majestic New Zealand book, stalked in cyberspace, and Head like a Hole…

Update 22 Jan 2010: We now have signed copies of Majestic New Zealand available for supporters. If you’d like to consider a copy, have a look here.

Make love, sorry PHOTOS, not WAR

November 5th, 2009 § 2 comments - add yours

Check this out. Latest specialist camera build for an interesting job I have coming up. Want one?
 

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A new Weta species for NZ? Going back to find today…video added*

October 25th, 2009 § 0 comments, Add the 1st

Two weeks ago I was on Mana Island (a special Island sanctuary for rare NZ creatures) on a wildlife photo shoot for New Zealand Geographic Magazine (here’s a small sneak preview)  for their 100th issue (congratulations to James and the team!) and while out filming past midnight I spotted a very unusual weta species.Weta Discovery Mana Island, Rob Suisted

I got some good photos, realised it was different and contacted the weta experts.  No one has seen anything like this.  There’s a chance it’s a juvenile Cook Strait Giant Weta with odd markings, but then there’s also a chance it’s a whole new species.  Very exciting…colouration and some body features are very different.

So today I’m heading back to Mana Island for the night with 4 weta experts. We want to see if we can catch the insect again so they can determine how significant the find is!  Back Monday evening.

Update 26 Oct 2009: Well, we found the spot I originally spotted the unknown weta (shown above), but strong winds conspired to make the search tough. We’ve marked and will be monitoring it for future developments.

We did have a top night though, finding a couple of Gold-striped Geckos (Hoplodactylus chrysosireticus) and a beautiful pair of Cook Strait Giant Weta (Deinacrida rugosa), some of the heaviest insects in the world – real whoppers! I’ll post a few photos of these shortly.  Also, we saw the first nests of the very endangered New Zealand Shore Plover (Thinornis novaeseelandiae) on the beach.
In fact, this morning I was enjoying a cup of tea sitting in the sunshine on the beach and a pair of rare plover came over and bedded down not far from my feet – how lucky is that! So, not successful this trip in finding the unknown weta, but great to see all these rare creatures.

Update 29 Oct 2009: I’ve just added a video of the Giant Cook Strait Wetas as they make great video actors! Check this out:

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Rob’s Arctic adventure 2009 updates

July 11th, 2009 § 20 comments - add yours

For two months I'm working as lecturer and naturalist on an expedition ship heading to Svalbard (bet you don't know where that is), Greenland, Iceland and the Canadian Arctic. I'm blogging, and also carrying a satellite beacon that gives my real time location. So, add us to your favs, sign on for the RSS feed, or follow me on twitter and I'll do my best to take you along for the trip.

LATEST UPDATE:8 September 2009 - Greenland & Canada.
We got to Nuuk, the captial of Greenland. Of course Santa Claus is a tourist thing here, with his 'headquarters' in the tourist office. The national museum was worth the visit. On display are 4 of the famous perfectly preserved Greenland Qilakitsoq Mummies from around 1475AD. Several days later we were to visit Qilakitsoq, the actual burial site, just across from Uummannaq town. Uummannaq is very scenic, and the recent wind had choked the harbour with large icebergs enhanced the view. Lunch was served with a collection of local foods - esp. fin whale meat and much dried fish at the local hotel. Afterwards we hiked over the island for an hour to a back bay where Santa Claus has his summer house. He wasn't in when we arrived , but Christian one of our team (with authentic white beard) was on hand to pass out sweeties! The traditional turf house was furnished with his belongings. And yes Janette (my able bodied Business Manager), I did leave a note for you saying you'd been good.

Ilulissat - now that's a spectacular place in Disko Bay. Jacobshaven Glacier has the highest output of water (ice) in the northern hemisphere. It's calving more ice in one day than New York uses in water in one year apparently. The huge bergs take 2 years to travel down the fiord and out past the town. It is truly impressive, and little wonder why this is the heart of Greenland tourism, and also a UNESCO World Heritage site. It produces very tall bergs as they roll around in the fiord, and these litter Disko Bay and the surrounding Davis Strait. We had 2 days there, seeing a fantastic sunset on departure, humpback whales amongst the bergs and generally just staring in awe from the various hiking tracks at the scale of things.

Next was the Davis Strait passage across to Baffin Island in the Canadian Arctic. We spotted a hundred or so Pilot whales, but within sight of our first landfall, a tiny lonely piece of ice floated past with 2 polar bears eating a seal, 20NM from land. Welcome to Canada! We called at Iqaluit, the capital of Nunavut. Had a look in the Government's Legislative Chamber which was festooned with indigenous icons, art, narwhal tusks and meaning. I enjoyed seeing this, and the strong connection still with nature, the environment and the strengthening culture.

Then across to Lower Savage Islands to drive zodiacs amongst them looking for Polar bears. The first bear literally popped up in rocks about 30 metres from the Zodiac I was driving. Fantastic! Sadly, in Canada, (unlike Svalbard) Polar bears are hunted, have a great fear of humans, and generally high tail it quickly. But, we saw another 11 polar bears before heading to Resolution Island and spotting another two. 13 polar bears in one day and the Aurora borealis (Northern Lights) playing overhead to end with - what a day!!

Then a visit to Lady Franklin and Monumental Islands (both names connected to the famous missing Franklin Expedition in the North West Passage). Had another few polar bear sightings before the largest one I have ever seen decided to lie and/or prance on a rock very close to the coastline with very little concern (wee below right). This was a highlight. A visit to Akpatok Island was curtailed due to high winds, but I spotted a lonely bear walking the cliff top about 800 feet above us.

This morning we called into Hopedale, a tiny mostly Inuit town of 600 in Labrador. A beaut setting and historic place with Moravian church and Mission arriving from Germany in 1782 and being possibly the oldest building in east Canada. The local kids were out in force and we spent the morning giving them joyrides in the zodiacs around the ship. We were the first outside ship to call here this year and the smiles on their faces said it all. The kids certainly made the visit enjoyable for all of us.

Leaving Ilulissat IceFjord, Greenland, at dusk
Leaving Ilulissat IceFjord, Greenland, at dusk!
Very large Polar Bear on Monumental Island, Canadian Arctic
Polar Bear mother and cub on Lady Franklin Island, Canadian Arctic.
Very large Polar Bear on Monumental Island, Canadian Arctic
Polar Bear mother and cub on Lady Franklin Island, Canadian Arctic.
Aurora borealis Northern Lights
Aurora borealis, Northern Lights, Greenland
Humpback whales amongst ice
Humpback whales amongst ice
Iceberg near Uummannaq, Greenland
Iceberg near Uummannaq, Disko
Bay, Greenland
Santa's summer house, Uummannaq, Greenland
Santa's summer house, Uummannaq,
Greenland
Rob at Ilulissat, Greenland
Rob at Ilulissat, Greenland
Nunavut legislative chamber, Canada
Nunavut legislative chamber, Canada
Long finned Pilot whales at sea
Long finned Pilot whales at sea
Lady Franklin Island, Canadian Arctic
Lady Franklin Island, Canadian Arctic

The Google Map below is a rough overall view of the trip. Zoom in and move the map around.

View Rob's Arctic 2009 trip in a larger map
More updates below..... > > > Continue reading : full post + comments > > >

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