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
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.
Congratulations to George Bettle and his family; their house was a finalist in Home Magazine’s Home of the Year competition. Clearly a lot of remarkably good design went into it, and we’re chuffed that they selected one our images (Tui Black) to grace the main living space.
Tui Black in Home of the Year finalist, 2015. Photo courtesy of Simon Devitt & Home Magazine
The photo was is a result of harsh side light and dark forest behind, and a bit of luck. It’s a stunning frame and has created a lot of interested, so clearly George Bettle is a trendsetter, finding it first.
Today’s news carried an article on my photography work on the NZ Stamp annual, NZ postage stamps, and the NZ bank notes just annouced. Full story here.
Wellington photographer Rob Suisted, whose work features on stamps and on the newly designed New Zealand banknotes.
The article by Dave Crampton mentioned I’ve done previous NZ Post annual stamp book covers, so here’s some of the back story to those covers.
NZ Post annual stamp book covers by Rob Suisted, urging us to take a closer look at our native fauna
I’ve worked with Nicky Dyer of Strategy Design in Wellington on these for several years now. The 2012 cover used one of my favourite images, and the last couple of covers have been very interesting. 2013 cover involved filming rare NZ native geckos on a black background which involved an afternoon wrangling this cute little joker. 2014 proved to be much tougher.
Nicky called me and said they’d like to do a stunning cover focussing on our rare and little known giant carnivorous land snails, Powelliphanta. Jeepers I thought, it’s winter and they’re not going to be very mobile in the cold. Always up for a challenge I accepted.
The job involved setting up a makeshift macro studio in the back of my jeep, talking to snail experts, before heading across on the interisland ferry for a few days. Of course that night turned very cold, meaning that snails would not be active. Luckily I’d managed to get out at dusk and spend a few hours searching for snails. It took about an hour to find my first, and several others shortly after. I was fortunate as overnight a good dusting of snow meant searching become impossible.
Freezing cold, rare snail hunting
These unique snails require warmth to be active, and luckily with the sunny day, and black surfaces, it was enough to coax one out of it’s shell despite the cold air temperature. It did take about 4 hours though (mostly moving on the spot to warm my feet), and I got some stunning and unique portraits to do these giants proper justice. The textures, colours and form are beautiful and I enjoy looking at them.
First of our 2015 calendar creations have arrived. Here are 13 different titles we’ve done with John Sands New Zealand – part of a 17 year relationship we’ve had creating quality New Zealand calendars together. You’ll find them in most book shops, post offices, supermarkets throughout New Zealand. We never get tired of seeing them together, hot off the press.
Auckland City Hospital’s Motutapu Ward, the new Northern Region Haematology and Bone Marrow Transplant Unit, is using over 20 of our large murals.
The stunning facility has been co-designed with patients and has a range of unique features which have set a new standard in patient centred care. Former leukaemia patient and fundraising ambassador, Molly Rowlandson, says the new ward has exceeded all her expectations. ADHB press release
More research is showing that quality images of nature are important to our well being, and important in our lives. We enjoyed working with Klein (Architects of Specialised Environments) to get the best images – not only in subject, but in size and proportions to get the best quality reproduction.
There are three aspects for quality large reproductions: 1) Orignal image size before interpolation – i.e. the more pixels from the camera the better!, 2) reproduction size, how big is your mural going to be, and 3) viewing distance – how far is the view from the print? Viewing distance is often much neglected in consideration. E.g. a phone photo will work for a billboard size reproduction if the viewing distance is 100 metres away, but on a wall at a close viewing distance it will fail badily. If the print is viewed from a few metres then there is no substitute for professional files
We work really hard to provide image files that can go large, with close viewing distances. In fact, we’ve just invested in the new Pentax 645Z camera and full set of lenses, a camera of 51 megapixels per image. Professionally stitched image panoramas will make amongst the best image files for murals available anywhere.
Several other large mural projects we’re been involved with here.
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:
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.
We’ve been working with Kai Hawkins on some interesting projects lately. Firstly we completed the new Blenheim i-SITE visitor centre, and today we got photos of new bus shelters we’ve supplied some luscious large high quality images for great looking murals. Take a look:
I supplied many images to outfit the Blenheim Information Centre, and recently got the chance to view the final result.
It’s always great to work on a project that uses images that make you proud, and this is one of them.
Pop in if you’re passing through Blenheim – it’s a great building with nice interior and exterior design.
Images were from my wide Marlborough District collection. We do a lot of large image installations and murals like this. For example, you’ll see my images used in Auckland and Christchurch International Airports.
“You should come on the May autumn muster to Lake McRae.” said Jim Ward, Manager of Molesworth high country Station.
What an invitation; for those that know Molesworth Station you’ll understand the significance of such an invite! For those that know Lake McRae (see map at bottom), many will regard this as a holy land of sorts. To join in on the annual cattle muster to push 400 cattle over the Inland Kaikoura Ranges to their traditional winter pastures is epic. Not only is it regarded as one of the highest cattle musters in the world (at over 1400m/4700ft), but it’s also one of the most remote seldom visited spots in New Zealand. With three stockmen & horses involved, and small backcountry hut, it’s also a very few lucky folks that have ever participated in this 100 year tradition. More folks have climbed Everest than been here. This is not a commercial trip, but a unique rare opportunity to join the stockmen on part of their annual work programme in the high country.
For the last 18 months I’ve been working on a book about this historic high country station with Harry Broad. Lance McCaskill wrote a seminal book about the first 50 years of Molesworth history. We’re bringing the history of this fascinating iconic high country run up to date. It’s New Zealand’s largest farm at 500,000 acres and sits nestled amongst mountain ranges between Blenheim, Hanmer Springs and Kaikoura.
Back at my office in Wellington, Nina, my Business Manager, was excited. She’d grown up with horses and rode professionally back in Sweden. On weekends she trains riders and horses. You will be fine, I’ll teach you she said.
Learning: my horse riding crash course on Red. Photo & teaching by Nina Tötterman
So started a wonderful bi weekly programme designed to advance me from newbie to competent horse rider in less than a month, but most importantly to toughen up my softer spots. Each Tuesday and Thursday we shut the office at noon, headed for Wainuiomata and climbed on horses. My third lesson as cantering bareback. They pushed me hard to learn on the crash course but I’m very grateful now. Luckily I apparently picked things up fast, learning I think more about animal behaviour and psychology than staying on Red, Ray, or Teddy, the three boys I learnt to ride on. Bruce and Kelly’s property in Wainuiomata had a great variety of steep hills and trails to explore between flat work. Things started to arch and hurt in places you’d normally only see with a mirror; apparently a sign you’re doing it right. Weird that.
Nina, my Bus. Mgr & horse whisperer controlling an over excited high performance F1 hot blooded 'Shaka'
One Sunday night the phone went; it’s Jim. “Can you get down tomorrow? We’re bringing it forward due to weather”. I hurriedly finished my GST tax return, a quick pack and assemblage of equipment and I was on the ferry heading for the South Island.
I arrived late evening, got a bit of gear organised, hit the hay around midnight, to be up a 4.30am for breakfast with Jim & Tracey and the three stockmen that I’d be riding with for the next 3 days, Andy McLachlan, Cory Hollister and Tom O’Sullivan. Nine months before I’d met these guys on their first week on Station as they learnt horse shoeing from visiting farriers so they could look after their horses in the remote out stations through the year (a skill we’d rely on later…
I’ve been photographing a book about Molesworth Station; New Zealand’s largest station at 200,000 hectares (500,000 acres!).
The dramatic changes in landscapes, colours and seasons are imperceptible to our human time scale. I’ve just compared 3 photos taken 5 months apart and watched the richness of colour fade out to a stark reality of a barren winter landscape. Beautiful.
Molesworth Station seasonal contrast. Click to enlarge
That time of year when our calendar publishers unveil there collections. Here are a few dedicated Rob Suisted titles and covers you’ll see in all great stores around New Zealand:
This year would be one of the best looking line ups of retail products we’ve done. Rob is very happy with the quality – they look really good. The New Zealand Panorama title is especially delicious – full of his heartfelt favourite panorama images.
Yesterday Garry Glynn contacted me to photograph a family heirloom piece. Other photographers he’d contacted weren’t interested; I assume it being a small paying private job. I had a hunch that there was something more interesting about it, took it on, and luckily I was proved right.
89 year old Garry arrived and delivered to my hand a small simple heavy brass drinking cup similar to many I’d used in India. Nothing special except it had engraving around the outside. It carried a story that I’m still thinking about today; a story of history and horrific human bloodshed.
From the Battle of Mahajapore. Scroll down for result
Turns out Garry’s relative (Col Sgt J. Barry, 39th Dorestshire Regiment) was present at the Battle of Maharajpore, India, on the 29th December 1843. He was lucky to make it. 5000 people did not make it that day! In a nutshell, Central and Northern India had fallen to British forces in 1818, but Marathas in Gwalior saw the failed British campaign in Afghanistan as opportunity to regain independence. The battle ensued. It’s believed that nearly 800 Bristish soldiers and 3-4000 Marathans were killed; an unbelievable slaughter of human beings in one day. The significance of this event for the British is remembered with the Gwalior Star campaign medal.
Garry is passing this family ‘war trophy’ or heirloom down to the next generation and wanted a photo showing all the cup’s text to give to his relatives. My job was to attempt that. Given the circular object with concave face, and the highly reflective nature of the surface, the job wasn’t straightforward. But I love a challenge, and I reckon it could be done.
First up was to prepare the vessel. A good polish brought out a good shine, and a closely held candle flame sooted the surface up nicely, and another shine left a little soot in the engraving. Next was figuring out how to light the face of the vessel with even light. No problems there, get an Elinchrom studio light out and pop on a softbox, but trouble is that you can’t get a camera in there without interrupting the clean lighting. I tried a couple of tilt shift lenses attempting to shoot off the central axis, but this just distorted too much. Then I figured the concave front face would let me lower the softbox and shoot over the top without breaking the clean reflection – great.
Camera shooting over studio flash and softbox
Once a nice even light was sorted, next was to carefully rotate the vessel and photograph ovelapping images. Another lens base proved to be the perfect stage.
Photo slices ready to be worked up
I ran this through a panorama stitching programme and gave it a clean up. Garry just called around today and seems very happy with the result:
The final result
But I’ve been thinking about the cup since: what horrors and good times it has witnessed, and what route it has taken to arrive in my hands? Garry tells me that a number of ‘retired’ seasoned British soldiers were offered land in New Zealand in exchange for being willing to fight in the NZ land wars if necessary. They become known as ‘The Fencibles’, and this is the route in which the cup arrived in NZ.
I also found this gritty, stiff upper lip, description of the battle by Henry Man. It’s a short honest read that gives you an appreciation of how gnastly that day must have been. Please take a moment to read it if you can.
So, all in all, a photo job that paid for itself in not only in dollar terms, but that was also rich in knowledge, experience, and technical challenge.
Commissioned commercial photography is something I really enjoy. It’s time to make a dedicated website for the commissioned side of my photography business. I’ve been privileged to work with some top clients, on some truly challenging and great jobs around New Zealand over the years. This new website showcases some of that work and touts for more.
Rob Suisted commercial photography, Wellington, New Zealand. Click the image for a visit.
Experience has taught that the only constant in photography is uncertainty (every job is unique and different) and that drawing from a diverse range of experience and ‘tricks of the trade’ while adding in fresh ideas is the key to figuring out and excelling at the next photographic challenge. I love it and will be doing more alongside my Nature’s Pic Images business.
I’d love to get your feedback on version 1.0, or hear any bright ideas you have to make it better. Thanks.
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?
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
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.
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. Here’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
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.
It’s that time already – calendars for 2011 are starting to appear in shops. It seems earlier and earlier each year.
Every year we work with many publishers, designers, companies and printers to create a large range of quality calendars. Retail calendar have just started hitting shops, and samples are arriving (it seems to get early each year). Here are a few just in, with one that we particularly like below:
2011 calendars by Rob Suisted, a selection so far
We particularly like the NZ Panorama title. It was developed with John Sands based on the large collection of quality New Zealand panorama stock photos that Rob has created over the last few years. It’s a large calendar, and with metallic embossing on the front it looks great.
Have a closer look. These should be appearing in stores mid August.
For your info, we have a massive collection of images perfect for NZ calendar production. The calendars above are publically available in stores, but we also create numerous specific in house titles directly with companies, such as banks, insurance companies, supermarkets, consultancies etc. Please contact us if you have a calendar project in mind; they are a great full year promotional tool.
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!
I’m doing a lot of commercial helicopter photo work at the moment, mainly for Tourism New Zealand. I want to take you along behind the scenes in Fiordland New Zealand, on a job I just got home from. Spectacular! Things don’t go as forecast so it’s an interesting day with some interesting sights and some interesting blokes. You have to watch this:
The day started in a run of perfect weather, but mysteriously a thick layer of fog/cloud filled Fiordland making filming tough for myself (stills photog) and the HD Cineflex video helicopter team to operate. What happens next?
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 vehicle 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:
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. I 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. Above is one of the island’s geckos. At night they all come out hunting insects and …. > > > Continue reading : full post + comments > > >
Saw the new arrivals hall inside NZ Customs, at Auckland International Airport, when I got back. I’d supplied a special shot made of 10 high resolution digital files merged to make a very large photograph. To see a shot of mine welcoming us over the threshold onto NZ soil is a great feeling.
Fresh in from Auckland today:
I did a range of shots of our rare New Zealand native Falcon recently that I’m really proud of. M&C Saatchi and St Matthew’s Church teamed up and used one of my shots to impress upon Guinea Pig owners (and other pet lovers) the importance of pet blessing. No Guinea Pigs were hurt in this design! The full technical story of this film shoot is recorded here. Other falcon photos can be seen here. But please check out this shot below – one of my favourites. A click will show it in full size glory.