Country Calendar Book – a 50th Anniversary project finished

December 16th, 2016 § 0 comments, Add the 1st

NZ’s Country Calendar TV show is the 2nd oldest TV programme in the world after Coro Street.

It was an honour to be commissioned to photograph the official 50th anniversary book to commemorate the milestone for TVNZ. It’s been a full on 6 month photographic journey, twice around NZ, poking my nose into so many interesting stories, and meeting lots of passionate interesting people around NZ. Country CalendarBook Rob Suisted

Firstly, if you haven’t got a copy of this iconic book, get yourself along to my publisher and order a copy – you won’t be disappointed. I’m very proud of the quality of the photos created to tell each of 15 stories, and Matt Philp’s writing style is brilliant at capturing the tales.  Here are a few favourites from the many images

The job wasn’t easy – turning up to live with complete strangers 24/7 for up to a week, while seeking their confidence to document their stories and poke a camera into their lives. It was stressful for them and me, but without exception everyone was incredibly hospitable and obliging which allowed me to tease out their stories and capture it within 8-10 frames.

Each image had to earn it’s spot, and often illustrate at least 2 concepts. Such as the photo below, it needed to be a portrait, talk of wetland restoration and Stu’s Kaitiaki role and his love of whitebaiting. It took some doing: Stu Muir runs a dairy farm, but is passionate about wetland restoration in the Waikato River Delta.  This is what I came up with:Stu Muir, wetland restoration. Photo by Rob SuistedAnd here’s how it was done – 2 days of planning/executing, screening water flow, and a lot of time coaxing shy whitebait within 50mm of my wide angle lens (the little guys take fright at their reflections and the tiniest vibration), while trying to hold a punt in the current (with 10mm free board), and keep the good natured Stu Muir from getting too bored. It was a success and a frame I’m proud of.Rob Suisted filming whitebait for Country Calendar Book

 

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.

New Zealand native geckos

March 14th, 2013 § 4 comments - add yours

A few frames from a recent photoshoot of one of our rare native geckos – this one is a Lewis Pass Green Gecko (Naultinus tuberculatus); a real cutie licking his eyeball

Lewis Pass Green Gecko (Naultinus tuberculatus)

Lewis Pass Green Gecko (Naultinus tuberculatus)

I’ve been fortunate enough to photograph many of our New Zealand lizards, have a browse.

Another newspaper interview

January 13th, 2012 § 0 comments, Add the 1st

Interviewed by the Hutt News:

Click to read the interview with photographer Rob Suisted
Click to read the interview with photographer Rob Suisted

The Monk photo mentioned is here, and some Molesworth Station work here.

Freezing my proverbials off for a spectacular experience

September 28th, 2011 § 5 comments - add yours

So the buggers put me on the cover, freezing my bits off.  I can’t be too upset, testing a new outer shell garment for Swazi Apparel can lead to trouble when you push the limits, but you’re going to get an experience out of it too.  Here’s the shot, a quick story behind a beaut experience.

Freezing my proverbials off, Mt Taranaki winter

Freezing my proverbials off, Mt Taranaki winter

I set off with Bia Boucinhas (a Brasilian friend training as a mountain/Antarctic guide in NZ) to climb Mount Taranaki and get some winter photos.  Davey Hughes of Swazi had stuffed a newly designed goretex lightweight ‘Narwhal’ anorak into my hand and told me to test it the day before.  Of course I’d said.  Little did I know what a testing it, and we, were going to get.  The day had been fine as we set off to climb to Syme Hut on Fanthams Peak for the night, before climbing Mt Taranaki the following day.  As is often the case here, the weather changes very fast despite the best weather forecasting, and sure enough we were pushing through cloud and wind by the half way mark.

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Approaching the summit of Fatham’s Peak we were hit by hurricane strength winds and a freezing southerly which made it very hard to stand up.  Visibility dropped to 3 metres making it very hard to find the white ice covered hut in a total white out where visibility was 2-3 metres.  Things were getting serious at this point as our core body temperatures were plummeting fast in the… > > > Continue reading : full post + comments > > >

Seasons revolving. Contrasts of Molesworth Station

September 15th, 2011 § 0 comments, Add the 1st

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

Molesworth Station seasonal contrast. Click to enlarge

So, merged, the top two look great:

Awatere River at the Muller - lush autumn to stark winter

 

Looking forward to the spring colour flush…

Free casual photo walk then breakfast with Rob Suisted. Wellington, 10th Sept

August 18th, 2011 § 2 comments - add yours

Rob Suisted has photo guided from Pole to Pole, and a few places in between.  He’s never done it locally. 

He’s offering a casual, free, photo walk on the Wellington south coast on the morning of Saturday 10th Sept, followed by a group breakfast.

It’s great meeting new people, and sharing creative inspiration and knowledge. Coming into spring is a great time to get motivated!  Click here to read about it

It’s limited in numbers, so register your interest now. Pass it on.

Wellingtons wild south coast

Wellington's wild south coast

Rob Suisted photo guiding, Greenland, Arctic. Join us in Wellington

Rob Suisted photo guiding, Greenland, Arctic. Join us in Wellington

Antarctica in one photo only

January 25th, 2011 § 6 comments - add yours

How do you sum up Antarctica with one photo?  Tough?  Impossible?

I’ve done over 15 expeditions to the Ross Sea, Adelie Coast and Antarctic Peninsula, but took my first photo last week that nearly captures the essence of Antarctica for me.  Here it is:

Crabeater seals in Antarctic iceberg graveyard. Booth Island

Crabeater seals in Antarctic iceberg graveyard. Booth Island

I had about 30 minutes to myself amongst an area of stranded icebergs.  The sky was heavy with no wind.  Magic starts to happen. I had to find it.  Slowly I weaved my zodiac boat amongst … > > > Continue reading : full post + comments > > >

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

Guest post: Flying high with great beauty and vision with New Zealand’s leading nature photographer

March 25th, 2010 § 5 comments - add yours

Please welcome our guest blogger Aliscia Young, who had a chance to join Rob on a helicopter photo shoot over the Marlborough Sounds.  Aliscia is a very talented New Zealand documentary photographer specialising in nature and fashion photography, and has a BDes Hons 2008 from Massey University.  Rob was interviewed by Aliscia during her study and has watched her work develop.  There was an opportunity for Aliscia to join Rob on a commerical aerial film shoot for Tourism New Zealand.   Here are Aliscia’s thoughts… 

Check out some of her work below. She has exhibited at 5 Stories High Gallery, Wellington and if you’d like to see more of Aliscia’s work or get in touch, please email: lightroom.exhibition@gmail.com. Thanks for the kind words Aliscia!

Aliscia Young Helicopter shoot

The other day Rob invited me to join him to photograph from a helicopter around the top of the South Island. The night before we set out Rob said, “forgot to ask if you’re okay with flying. Doors will be off and it’ll be up and down and all over the place…good fun.” Thank goodness I don’t experience flying sickness, I thought to myself… > > > Continue reading : full post + comments > > >

‘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

> > > Continue reading : full post + comments > > >

Helicopters and cameras behind the scenes in Fiordland, wow

February 8th, 2010 § 11 comments - add yours

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?

You’ll see a lot of the equipment we use, several helicopters, and… > > > Continue reading : full post + comments > > >

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 > > >

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 > > >

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…

> > > Continue reading : full post + comments > > >

Wilderness Magazine cover by Rob this month…

May 3rd, 2009 § 4 comments - add yours

Wow, we’re pleased with how Wilderness Magazine has reproduced a favourite image this week…….wildmag_t

Just arrived in the mail from the publisher. This image was taken on a particularly cold winter’s night on the flanks of Mount Ruapehu – apparently the coldest of the year. As conditions were so clear I spent most of the night working on this image. At 35+ minutes per photo (plus similar time for the noise reducing dark photo phase) you don’t get too many photos for your labours, but this one came out a cracker, and I’m proud of the quality of the final results. Thanks guys. > > > Continue reading : full post + comments > > >

Golden shots of the grape harvest!

April 22nd, 2009 § 2 comments - add yours

We have just uploaded some glorious shots taken during the grape harvest in the Wairarapa last weekend.

Harvest time

Harvest time

Harvest time

Harvest time

Grapes harvested

Harvest time

It was one of those gorgeous autumnal days where the air was still and the sun shone, and the creative photographic juices started to flow….

> > > Continue reading : full post + comments > > >

100 year photo event, one chance – don’t blow it!

March 25th, 2009 § 2 comments - add yours

JOB: Once in 100 year event, 3-5 seconds to get photo, commissioned work for client, weather iffy, precarious platform…. Are you up for it?

Always in for a photographic challenge, here is an anatomy of an interesting photoshoot, and the creation of a very satisfying image that will live on……
The 100yr Hapuawhenua Viaduct shoot - a nervous wait...

The 100yr Hapuawhenua Viaduct shoot - "a nervous wait..."

> > > Continue reading : full post + comments > > >

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