This is long overdue, but I thought I’d make a brief post about some of my experiences in New Zealand recently. I had the opportunity to visit Weta studios to see footage from Steven Spielberg’s latest film, The Adventures of Tintin. You can find my full write-up by clicking here, as well as a partial transcript of a conversation I participated in with Spielberg and Peter Jackson (part 1 and part 2).
After the set visit, I took the opportunity to drive along the South Island of New Zealand. The rental car cost me about $450 for three days (including gas, which costs about $8/gallon in New Zealand), and I had to drive all by myself for about 1,000 miles, but I saw sights that are so beautiful that they simply can’t be matched anywhere else on earth. For this trip, I used a combination of my Canon 50D with a 50mm f/1.8 lens, my Fuji X100, and my iPhone mostly using the Pano app:
I’ve done nature photography in the past, but in general, I find it to be a challenging enterprise. On a very basic level, the technology is limiting. The human eye’s dynamic range is vastly higher than that of even the most advanced dSLR on the market. Therefore, when you’re photographing images like this one…
…it can be challenging to determine the correct exposure level. And even if I got something usable, some post work would be required (as it was in this image). Fortunately, as I’ve pointed out in the past, the Fuji X100’s dynamic range is spectacular. Obviously HDR is a solution for some of these problems, but I’m still not sure I want my images to look so obviously manipulated.
When you’re photographing a human being, it’s pretty easy to figure out how to compose an image; maybe stick to the rule of thirds, and if you have interesting background elements, use them to frame your subject in a unique way. But with nature photography, you have to be more conscious of how different elements fill the frame, how the eye is drawn to them, and how the eye moves through the image. You also have a lot less flexibility in terms of which angle you are shooting from.
Despite the challenges, I’d like to think I was able to capture a small fraction of the beauty that’s present in New Zealand. Hopefully, you feel the same way.
[A special thanks to Sam and to Sid from New Zealand for their help in allowing me to capture these images!]