How To See.

I photograph to see what the world looks like photographed. Garry Winogrand

There is a great little book called ‘How To See’, written by Thich Nhat Nanh. It centres around the art of mindfulness. Eric Kim has also written an article called ‘Learn to See’. I’ve always thought this concept was a little daft. We all have eyes and we use them all the time. Recently I feel that I’ve been learning to see once again. Maybe this is influenced by my growing interest in meditation, or maybe it is because I am finding myself in an unfamiliar environment.

Landscape Photography

This is meant to be a street and travel photography blog. I’m soon going to have to add landscape photography to my working title. But seriously, that’s all there is near my current home in New Zealand! I’m finding my feet here. Fortunately for my health, landscape photography still requires a lot of walking with the positive flip side of there being healthier air than in the cities! With Street Photography I know where I stand, but now my creativity is being challenged. Here are two recent photos I am fairly happy with.

Queen Charlotte Sounds No1
Queen Charlotte Sounds No2

The Negatives

I’m not terribly happy with how the sea looks in either of these photos. Moving on, I will try and shoot at a slower shutter speed, and set the camera up on a tripod. This should make the sea a little smoother and less noisy. I do like the sky, so maybe I need to experiment with blending multiple exposures of the same image. The next issue is the time of day. I love early mornings, but at the moment I’m working online till late in the evenings. I lose my teaching job very soon, but one positive spin on this financial setback will be more time to shoot in the mornings!

The Positives

With respect to landscape photography, I have yet to develop a ‘style’ of my own. However, the current method I am playing with involves using the end of the zoom, and this has the effect of compressing the layers together, and making a flat looking image. Landscape photography is much more demanding on post production, and my Photoshop subscription is starting to earn its keep!

Nothing But flowers

At the moment the beach is brimming with flowers. I’m really trying to avoid becoming a flower photographer, but the pull is there. Help me someone – I need to get to a city soon! One moment I’m enjoying a brisk walk out in the open, and the next I’m on my belly flower arranging. However, I am really quite pleased with the photo below. I wish that I had carried out a little gardening and removed the pine needles that are in the middle of the leaves.

I have no idea what kind of flower this is!

The Future’s Uncertain

There is no doubt about it, this hippy dippy flower and landscape work may come to an end. At some point a new job will (hopefully) start and I will be heading to one of New Zealand’s bubbling cities. The most likely location for my next adventure will be Auckland, Christchurch, or Wellington. On the flip side, China is now opening up now they have Covid under control. In the meantime, I will adjust my photography to what is around me, and once again, ‘learn to see’… Right, I’m off to crawl in the grass whilst looking for flowers!

Keep Clicking, Chris

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An Apology to Landscape Photographers!

It’s an odd thing, how we can mentally beat ourselves up over something we said ages ago, and certain words come back to haunt us. My latest mental rumination comes from a comment I said about landscape photography. I said it was easy. In fact I went further than this, stating that if you lived somewhere that looked good, all you had to do was step outside your door and take a photo. Now I’m in New Zealand, and my current accommodation is a stones throw from some of the most beautiful landscapes in the world. I’m talking about a misty township set amongst rolling green fields, and rows of grape vines leading to snow-capped mountains. It should be easy. It’s not…. Landscape photographers, I am sorry and I was wrong. It turns out landscape photography is quite a challenge!

Wither Hills, Blenheim

Why Landscape Photography?

When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. I am currently recording my time spent in New Zealand’s South Island, and will continue for however long this may be. This ‘project’ will hopefully cover travel, street, and portrait photography. In addition it will inevitably include close family. To document NZ without recording the majestic ‘Lord of the Rings’ landscapes, would surely be remiss. I am also getting pulled towards this genre by Thomas Heaton’s excellent Youtube channel (google it – you will be entertained and informed!).

So it’s Harder than it Looks?

My most recent attempt at landscape photography took me up the Wither Hills, which are situated about 1km away. I got there on my mountain bike and proceeded to peddle up the hill. Actually I ended up pushing the bike. Here is the first problem, getting to a spot that looks good can take a lot of work! As with all genres of photography, lighting makes or breaks a photo, hence my early-morning start. Note to self: spectacular sunrises do not always happen, and I seemed to be in the wrong place at the wrong time for the shot I had planned! The third challenge is post-processing. There is a LOT of post processing undertaken with the landscaping crowd, far more than with the conservative approach of Street Photography. Shooting RAW means that some level of post processing will always be needed, but I am still finding my feet when it comes to developing a ‘style’. Luminar 4 is one programme that helps bring the most out of even the poorest landscape photos. However, this genre is sure to stretch my photoshop skills.

Vineyard (Stitched Panorama)

Try it Yourself

Landscape photography definitely provides something new to try, and studying this genre will make me a better photographer. Any time spent studying light is time well spent! If you do try this yourself, you will probably need a tripod, particularly if you aim to shoot in low light. In common with street photographers – a strong pair of shoes will also come in handy!

If you do have tips or resources on landscape photography please let me know below. I’m learning!

Wither Hills, Blenheim

What Next?

Documenting a quieter place is a challenge. The anonymity of a city is lost, and the candid snapshot feels more of a threat. Asking permission and seeking interesting characters may be a way forward. On a wider scale, the opportunities for far-flung travel photography appear to be receding, or at least becoming a greater challenge. Photography on the doorstep is to be one current path forward. Either way, a day spent with a camera in-hand is sure to bring some peace and joy.

Peace, and take care wherever you are taking photos, Chris.

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