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.

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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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

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

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.

‘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 > > >

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 > > >

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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Speed and beauty, NZ falcon shoot up close

July 5th, 2009 § 16 comments - add yours

It was a privilege to work with the rare and little know native New Zealand Falcon this month… New Zealand Geographic Magazine were running a feature on the rare NZ falcon, but didn’t yet have the wow shot to sell the story, so asked if I’d have a crack at it. Knowing that these birds are amongst the fastest on earth, very cryptic, and not particularly large meant that a challenge lay ahead.  I love a tough assignment that pushes thinking beyond the norm; the satisfaction of success is very sweet.  Here is part of the result:

New Zealand Geographic Magazine Cover this month

New Zealand Geographic Magazine Cover this month

The other part includes the next photo as an internal double page spread.  It blows me away and I just can’t stop looking at the result below…MORE…

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Very rare creepy-crawlies. Mentoring a young photog for NZ Geo Magazine

June 15th, 2009 § 13 comments - add yours

‘We’d like you to mentor a ‘Young Gun’ photographer’ was James Frankham’s request from New Zealand Geographic Magazine.  The ‘Young Gun’ was Spiderman Bryce – a keen young chap from Hamilton who has a penchant for bugs, especially big spiders. Bryce was super keen, and while spiders are not one of my fav critters, I’m always up for an interesting challenge, giving  back to a good cause and something different.

Cook Strait Giant Weta female climbing onto Bryce's hand (Deinacrida rugosa, Stenopelmatidae). Endemic endangered New Zealand insect. Wetapunga. Island gigantism

Cook Strait Giant Weta female climbing onto Bryce's hand (Deinacrida rugosa, Stenopelmatidae). Endemic endangered New Zealand insect. Wetapunga. Island gigantism

NZ Geo magazine have just started a programme where they pair promising photographers with seasoned pros (not sure what my seasoning is yet though). We chose to take Bryce to Mana Island, a Scientific Reserve that is an island sanctuary for some of New Zealand’s rarest animals and plants. Currently Mana is being restored to a pest free island status, which means that the lack of introduced predators gives the local fauna a chance to recover – especially the giant weta and lizards. Kindly supported by the Department of Conservation (DOC), we were collected in the DOC boat and whisked across to Mana Island from Paremata.

Common Gecko licking eyeball while hanging off branch hunting at night (Hoplodactylus maculatus, Gekkonidae)

Party trick. A common Gecko licking its eyeball while hanging off branch hunting at night (Hoplodactylus maculatus, Gekkonidae)

We spent the day checking out Brown Teal, Kakarikiand other creatures (not to mention the volunteer creatures planting trees for DOC) on the before the rain arrived. Sue and Frank, the DOC Rangers on Mana, were very accommodating, pointing us in the right direction to find species and things of interest. Frank took us to a known spot to look for McGregor’s Skink, one of the rarest Skinks in the world. Our luck was in, finding several of these beautiful lizards as the rain set in proper….. MORE…
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