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
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
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.
About nine months back in invested in a Ricoh Pentax 645z camera body, and purchased nearly every medium format lens available (from super wide 25mm (approx 19mm in 35mm equiv.) to 400mm tele) for this wonderful new camera. I thought it was time to talk about the joy I’m getting from the amazing output quality I’m seeing.
I used to shoot medium format film cameras up to 6 x 9 colour transparencies. Shooting 35mm full frame digital is great, but when Ricoh Pentax brought out this camera I felt it was time to jump up. Sure, Canon has recently unveiled 50MP 35mm camera bodies, but to be honest, they won’t come close to the performance of this. The file sizes might be comparable, but the pixel size with the Canon is so small now, that the quality of output will be miserable in comparison. Check out the photo below for a large copy (which is 1/10th the size of the original by the way) – click on it and make sure you’re viewing at 100%. As you see, there’s no shadow detail. Infact, I’m finding I can shoot the Pentax 645z at 3200 ISO and the files are better than the best Canon 400 ISO files I’ve seen. It’s just luscious to shoot with and I still marvel at the results every day.
Incredible image quality - click for full screen view - make sure you have 100% viewing
It’s been a big investment in equipment, but as we specialise in very large reproductions (especially doing a lot of giant murals for clients) and have always aimed for the best quality output. It’s why we also maintain a top of the line Hasselblad Imacon Scanner for sucking the best out of our back collection of quality transparencies. The feedbck we’ve had from clients is very rewarding.
Pentax 645z in action. Rob Suisted, Kaimanawa Forest Park
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
Relaxing NZ flax wetland reflections ©Rob Suisted - www.naturespic.com
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.
Coromandel sunset ©Rob Suisted - www.naturespic.com
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
Clarence River high country ©Rob Suisted - www.naturespic.com
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.