My Wave – Looking For Creative Options When Photographing Nature

Abstract Wave Image Moeraki Beach, Otago New Zealand

Abstract Wave Image Moeraki Beach, Otago New Zealand


I don’t usually give away photo advice – nobody seems to ask for it – and I don’t know if I can articulate the advice that I want to give. Photography for me is a mindset combined with some craft – it is golf with a camera.

At the recent Queenstown Photowalk #qtphotowalk +Scott Kennedy remarked to me that if 25 people are pointing their cameras one way – he will be pointing his the other.

I consider this to be great creative advice, although I apply it metaphorically, rather than literally.

I think that there is a lot to be learned by shooting the really popular photographic scenes – they are a fantastic creative benchmark.

Once you find that you can shoot the big popular scenes as well as your photographic heroes have (euphemistically called emulation – it is actually copying) it is time to move on with your skill set.

After a while you will actually find yourself copying yourself – that gets quite de-motivating. That’s when it is time to :

  • Look within the scene
  • Look behind the scene
  • Twist the scene
  • Mess with the scene
  • Walk away from the scene
  • Find a new scene

The real lesson is to not follow the herd.

This image was made pre-Christmas. I was tired and on a sales trip and my day had ended at the incredibly photogenic Moeraki Boulders

I was feeling completely demotivated towards re-shooting the boulders so I drove 2 minutes down the road to another beach and spent an inspirational hour taking nothing but shots of dark waves and dark clouds. It was awesome.


Cheers – Todd

+Chase Jarvis writes fantastic posts on his blog about creativity – as most of you will be well aware. If not put him in your reading list.

Russell Lupins – Mackenzie Country, South Island New Zealand

russell lupins lake tekapo mackenzie country New Zealand

Roadside Drift Of Lupins Near Lake Tekapo, New Zealand

We don’t have fields of  native wildflowers here in New Zealand.  Our most showy native is the coastal Pohutukawa tree – which is of little use if you live in the middle of NZ like I do.

Fortunately, a crafty farm wife in Lake Tekapo decided to do something about this dismal situation and set about spreading lupin seed throughout the Mackenzie Basin.  The plan was so successful that lupins are now officially an invasive weed.  Most people, myself included, consider this to be a load of fun-wrecking bureaucratic nonsense – so much so that there has been a plaque erected in Lake Tekapo celebrating this woman’s efforts.*

Lupine Field, Ahuriri River, Mackenzie Country, South Island New Zealand

Lupine Field, Ahuriri River, Mackenzie Country, South Island New Zealand


Lupin flowering peaks from late November through Mid December.  The 2011 season was spectacular – with huge drifts of pristine blooms evident from Lake Tekapo through to the Lindis Pass.

We are planning to run Lupin workshops during the 2012 flowering season – we will keep you posted with the details.

Cheers – Todd



* I didn’t know I’d be writing this post – so I forgot to note down her name.

Sunrise Portobello Harbour - Otago Peninsula, Dunedin, New Zealand

Room A Thousand Years Wide

Sunrise Portobello Harbour - Otago Peninsula, Dunedin, New Zealand

Sunrise Over Portobello Village - Otago Peninsula, New Zealand

This image was made just down the road from my old crib in Broad Bay on the Otago Peninsula.

I was going to entitle this post Cellulite Skies but for some reason the Soundgarden song title seemed more inspired :-)

Nikon D2x 

Nikkor 12-24mm

Singh-ray 3 stop grad


These days I would probably dispense with the grad filter and blend a couple of exposures in a situation such as this where the ridgelines are so complex and the range of tonality so deep.


Cheers – Todd

Nikon D4 disappointment? Deal With It.

Sheep at sunrise sandymount hoopers inlet otago peninsula dunedin New zealand

Sheep At Sunrise. Sandymount, Otago Peninsula, New Zealand.

Purchase this image on our webstore as a canvas print here

This was originally posted on Google+

D4 disappointment? Deal With It.

After months of (extremely accurate) leaks, an Earthquake/Tsunami in Japan and biblical grade flooding in Thailand, Nikon has formally announced the D4 to the photographic world.

As with every Nikon digital announcement that I can remember since the D2h, the internet has been awash with Nikon woe.

Comment streams are clogged with whinging ninnies and the ubiquitous switchers-to-be threatening to jump ship. Canon v Nikon spec sheets are being compiled, compared, printed and eaten in fits of despair while the underwhelmed and disenfranchised are proclaiming the end of Nikon and the ascendency of Sony and now Panasonic.

Here on G+ Trey Ratcliff appears to be viewing the D4’s apparently underwhelming specs, lack of ‘innovation’ and archaic SLR form factor as a harbinger of the DSLR’s demise.

Trey has gone into overdrive with a series of provocative posts – we have him in a Robert Scoble YouTube post denouncing the reflex mirror as a ‘DaVinci-esque’ contraption he is hosting an upcoming ‘is the DSLR dead?’ obituary hangout and re-sharing ‘the D4 sent me to sleep’ opinion pieces from equipment commentators that I have never heard of.

To date, I have not sighted a single comment or post from a photographer that starts with “when I shot with the D4 last week X happened…..” – apparently not one of these commentators has even shot with the D4.  It’s all vapour.

I am going to put the ‘DSLR is Dead’ theme aside (until tomorrow) and focus on the Nikon D4.

The general theme seems to be an over-arching disappointment at the lack of ‘excitement’ delivered by the D4.

I’m sorry to rain on anyone’s parade, but the Nikon D4 is not Playstation 5 or a Maserati. The D4 is not an entertainment device – it is a tool aimed at a very select group of professional photographers. If you are not in the D4’s target market you are not really supposed to get excited by it.

For the record, I am not remotely excited (or disappointed) by the D4 for that very reason – it is not my camera – it never was going to be.

In my experience Nikon has a long history of under-promising and accurately delivering with it’s DSLRs. It is seemingly corporate dictum to be out-specced by Canon. It is very rarely actually out-shot by anyone.

You will note that insanely great shots are made by shooters in both camps regardless of spec sheet differentials.**.

The D4 is an incremental iteration of a mature (and possibly dying) camera concept – it replaces a camera that, in many ways, didn’t really need replacing – the see-in-the-dark,10fps D3s.

As I don’t shoot a D3s I will have to defer to a higher power ( +Thom Hogan) who noted some months ago that he had not met many folks wanting to see the D3s go away – it is coveted amongst it’s user base for it’s freakish low-light capabilities, accurate autofocus and overall snappy and reliable performance.

In short – the D3s gets the shot where other cameras can’t – at the outer edges of photographic performance.

The D3/s user base is not going to tolerate any degradation of these features and this is where the difference between the consumer market and the professional market really lies. Consumers will tolerate being Guinea Pigs – working professionals won’t.

Assign a snazzy acronym to any unproven technology, toss it into a mirror-less or point & shoot and someone will buy it and love it.  Problems?  Fix ’em next time round and if it really sucks just tweak it, create a new acronym and roll it out again.

Go mirror-less and whack a brand new AF system into your ‘Flagship’ sports camera 6 months out from the Olympics and you are dead if things go pear shaped. I repeat dead.

Which is where I see a strange role reversal happening. The marketing clout of the ‘Flagship’ camera is greatly diminished in my opinion.

There are numerous consumer cameras that will ostensibly tout ‘better’ headline numbers than the D4/1D X within a year and smartphones within 2 years. Of course they won’t really be better, but try explaining that to anyone.

Barring the entrance of a new player such as Red – I believe that most innovations that were once driven from the ‘top’ of the range will now be deployed in the upper-mid section of the ranges. That is where I perceive that the bleeding edge currently exists – in the pro-sumer and emerging formats.

Winning technologies will be greatly enhanced and moved up the range until they hit the top – but not until they absolutely represent a tangible field-ready and robust improvement to the established user base.

This will be bewildering to many consumers and gear freaks – but the simple fact is that most working pros that I know care far less about their camera specs than most enthusiasts do. Pro’s like myself care about reliability, ergonomics, weight, spectacular glass and image quality.

Working photographers are simply too busy making images (and money) to be worried about this crap.

Is the D4 perfect?  No way. Once again Nikon failed dismally to learn from apple (sorry android) by omitting any sharing and distribution features onboard. They have yet again eschewed standard connectivity such as Wifi and GPS (just unacceptable).

There will of course be numerous other niggles but overall the D4 will be a killer camera for those that need it and know how to use it.

Will I buy one? No way – I have no need for the D4’s capabilities at present and I don’t like lugging ‘full body’ cameras these days.

I am waiting for the D800 – I can’t wait to hear what is wrong with that ;-)

Tune in tomorrow for when I publish my prequel to Trey’s Is the DSLR Dead? hangout.

(Not Yet Baby – Not Yet)

*surely the first time I have seen negative connotations applied to Leonardo DaVinci’s work.

** I shoot with both systems – in the vain hope of becoming the world’s best photographer.